Monday, August 22, 2011

John Zuma St. Pelvyn "Ampex, Stolaroff, Dogwood, Rain" c41 (Lighten Up Sounds)


Incredible debut release from solo guitarist/experimentalist, John Zuma St. Pelvyn (an alias that rolls right off the tongue), that came out a few months back, but is so deserving of more attention. Reportedly recorded while the artist was living in a water tower in Northern California, “Ampex, Stolanoff, Dogwood, Rain” has a highly personal and meditative sound, as though St. Pelvyn was trying to unlock some hidden tone from his minimal set-up of modified acoustic guitar and theremin. His playing over the sidelong “Balboa Spits Towards the Motherload” recalls the ghostly industrial blues that the late John Fahey was exploring at the end of the nineties on his Table of the Elements releases. The Fahey comparison is, of course, one of the more overused references in describing any solo acoustic guitar slinger with experimental leanings, but there are indeed similarities in the overall approach and sound here. While St. Pelvyn’s extended technique draws on similar blues motifs, he also has these interesting quick runs that fill in some of the empty spaces between notes. And on the closing track, “The Wreck of the Pacific Garden Mall”, he shapes squelching theremin sounds around his clanging slow motion acoustic strums, which is the point where you realize that this is an emerging new talent to keep an eye on. The tape comes housed in a fetching oversized package with the curious inclusion of a small baggie of wood shavings. Still available from Lighten Up Sounds.

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