a humongous triple (quadruple?) recommendation
"As alexander, Shapiro improvises and writes acoustic guitar numbers for fans of Fahey, Connors, and Rose. Balancing equal parts Americana, blues, jazz, and avant-garde, and always maintaining the intimate qualities of home recording." - C/SITE
ALEXANDER - ELEXTRIC 1
self released 2017, edition of 100
DAVID ALEXANDER SHAPIRO has been around, as member of drone duo NAGUAL since the start of this decade with CABIN FLOOR ESOTERICA releasing a side in 2014 -my first exposure to his work- and parallel/satellite projects primarily connected by way of STEFAN CHRISTENSEN's C/SITE label which dropped fringe folk bombshell NORTON ST [REC# 130] on me last summer, which i metaphorically praised as "FAHEY doin a legendary one off session for CORWOOD INDUSTRIES" - he fired off a volley of cassingle style extended players in NORTON ST's wake that continued the theme of street named works "documenting a brief time, at a particular place in this transient artists ever-winding journey"
ELEXTRIC 1 is SHAPIRO's first break from this theme, and it's a hard break - this is kinda like a tangible artifact left over from the freak intersection of parallel universes, someone crossed the streams and this singularity is the sonic residual manifestation of that event - any due indication or recognition of influence or similitude is annihilated - any preconceived notion best be checked at the door - there is no FAHEY or ROSE, no ALVARIUS B or LOREN CONNORS - this is a new page -if not a new chapter- in the frontier duality of no wave guitar and fringe folk improvisation, electrified, drenched in white hot fuzz and blasted with amp melting feedback, like a single ecstatic guitar line isolated in the chaotic bliss that is BURNT HILLS, building on principles outlined by demigods like TOM CARTER, reflecting japanese psychedelic noise proliferation in the wake of LES RALLIZES through an american primitive FUN HOUSE mirror like RON ASHETON armed with J MASCIS' entire big muff collection recording a one off cassette loaded with "l.a. blues" style freeform freakouts, imploding like JON COLLIN set on fire and shot out of a cannon - this is unhinged bombed out basement solo guitar destruction of the highest possible order
ALEXANDER - THE PALE LIGHT OVER THE DARK HILLS
self released 2017, edition of 100
PALE LIGHT is a rather dramatic turn, particularly on the heels of ELEXTRIC 1, but also in the wake of all previous ALEXANDER tapes since (debut?) CELESTE ARIAS, toward a blissfully non-dramatic form - SHAPIRO goes all out traditional american primitive, straight up and down fingerpickin, seemingly effortlessly on par with contemporary greats like GLENN JONES and SARAH LOUISE, more on the back country front porch relaxation side of things, clear skies, no worries - SHAPIRO is in no hurry here, which i know clashes somewhat with my taste for folk guitar music - i typically prefer brooding, pensive, raw, urgent, and definitely weirdo - PALE LIGHT is none of those things, but it has an undeniable earnest and intimate no frills roots flavor delivered with a well reserved high level of skill and talent, which is probably what surprises me most here on PALE LIGHT - you can tell that SHAPIRO knows his way around the acoustic guitar on previous street-named cascading freeform folk excursions, but i would not have necessarily inferred this level of mastery and presentation in this deceptively simple style where it is more difficult to pique my interest let alone have me ready to go again as soon as it's over - i could listen to this tape all day long
ROB NOYES / ALEXANDER - SPLIT 7"
c/site 2017, edition of 300
"Solo acoustic guitar music has certainly had a little time in the sun lately, and with fine players sprouting and blossoming, why not? On this split single two of America's finest come together for an exhilarating and cerebral affair. fresh off the tide fanfare from 2016's all-too limited 'Feudal Spirit' on Poon Village, Noyes brings a breakneck paced, attention demanding number. Noyes finger work is stunning, fills space with a particular density and heaviness. Entrancing and hypnotic passages give way to powerful melodies. And the melodies sparkle through - clear and soaring, as spellbinding as they are soothing to the ears. Alexander has been quietly amassing a sizable catalog of miniature press cassettes over the past few years. Many of those cassettes have brought to mind the work of Alvarius B, in their homespun improvisational style. However, on this split a different side of Alexander is on display, as he eases into a coy and sentimental tune. Deceptively quick while allowing the air to breathe between the notes, Alexander's keen grasp of both intricacy and minimalism cement him as a top player in a time of heavyweights. A preview of what promises to be one of the most compelling albums of the year." - C/SITE
well i'm not sure there's much left to say, but i'll try -- a leap forward in SHAPIRO's technique, to my ears - i think part of what makes the greats especially great is that they continue to find ways to improve -- FAHEY sounds perfect to me on DEATH CHANTS, yet AMERICA is clearly in another class in terms of development and scope -- what i mean is SHAPIRO's cut sounds more advanced than i might expect, coming just weeks after PALE LIGHT - he's been a badass all along but he doesn't play that card with bravado or theatrics - huge plus for SHAPIRO
if incredible (traditional) talent wasn't obvious on his weirdo tapes then leave it to a proper vinyl debut to set the record straight - here the straight laces of PALE LIGHT are loosened a smidge, allowing for more elaborate emotional expression - i won't get ahead of myself and say that SHAPIRO's AMERICA is just around the corner, but then i don't really have to because the label write up delivers sufficient hype in stating this is only a taste of an upcoming debut vinyl full length that "promises to be one of the most compelling albums of the year" - i would have been way on board anyway, but after hearing this split, i have no doubt it will be
i kinda don't want to sneak in an overlooked half-ass rec for ROB NOYES' FEUDAL SPIRIT vinyl debut from december last year, but 1. it's a classic casualty to late late in the year-ness, and 2. it's a classic, full stop, stone cold, no question or hesitation - i managed a final copy from NOYES in late december when it was already gone elsewhere and by january the secondary market price was skyrocketing - thankfully it has been repressed with a "new EZ-open jacket for the OCD/record collector set" which i get, but i'm a collector who is ocd about original pressings, so if the original has an annoying jacket that requires some destruction to actually open, then yeah, not only can i deal with it, i actually prefer it --anyway
FEUDAL SPIRIT is a boon, some of thee best solo folk guitar music i've ever heard - this guy, apparently some punk in a number of punk bands since the mid 2000s, who is this guy? a self released debut cassette in 2014 that i'm sure will now forever be too rich for my blood and then this one lp that became scarce in a matter of days - i'm not sure it adds up - it's kinda like ABUL MOGARD, it's kinda too good to be true, but i don't really care