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Anthony Pirog - 2021 - "Pocket Poem"

(42:29; Cuneiform Records)


The second solo album from Pirog finds him of course providing guitar and electronics, and here he is joined by Michael Formanek (acoustic and electric bass) and Ches Smith (drums, percussion and electronics). Pirog is another alumnus of Berklee College of Music, where he specialized in jazz guitar, and NYU, where he received a degree in jazz performance and progressive jazz. He first came together with Formanek and Smith for his previous solo album, 2014’s ‘Palo Colorado Dream’, so it made sense for them to return to the studio where he decided to expand the trio's palette by mixing modern technology with vintage guitar synthesizers. "The use of guitar synths by John Abercrombie and Allan Holdsworth is very interesting to me," he says, "and I wanted to explore the timbral possibilities available using these instruments in the recording process." The press release has a quote which for me really does sum up what is going on here, where it says, “Envision Adrian Belew, Tortoise, Bill Frisell, Bert Jansch, and Brian Eno squeezing into a particle accelerator.” What is missing from that eclectic list of names is of course Holdsworth, yet what is fascinating to me is that although this is hugely experimental, it is also far more structured than the likes of Markus Reuter, who specialises more in the improvisational field when conducting his solo works. There is the feeling that this is rehearsed and scored, and the use of acoustic guitar such as “Sitting Under Stars” gives a very different feeling indeed. As a whole, the album is indeed experimental, but there is a purpose within it, even if each piece is very different to the next so that one is never sure what is going to come next. His guitar is very precise, picking notes as opposed to providing sweeping chords, and the note choice always feels deliberate and with forethought. There is a freshness and contained excitement within this, and it is full of passion and clarity in an often-confusing world. It is definitely an album to be listened to on headphones when there is the time so simply sit and give it the time it deserves. There is a peace within it, and a gentle intensity as they mix prog and jazz together in a structured yet unstructured manner where there are no rules apart from follow where the music leads.

Progtector: August 2021

Related Links:

Cuneiform Records


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