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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Spectral Blues:
New Music for Acoustic Guitar




Reliquary Dances (2003)
Eight Ouds (2003)

Alex Lubet (acoustic guitar)
Recorded December 2004 and March 2006, Minnesota Public Radio in St Paul, Mn [42:36]


Alex Lubet was born in Chicago in 1954. A composer-performer on the guitar his music is rooted in the Blues and in Eastern music. Nevertheless it would be a mistake to presuppose from those dual influences that his music is in any way predictable or formulaic. It is intricate, refined, allusive and often quiet.

Reliquary Dances was composed in 2003 and recorded the following year. It was Lubet's first solo guitar composition and employs Blues and East Asian scales. To these elements he adds bent notes and multiphonics, amongst other devices. Such include percussive moments as well as evocations of bottleneck guitar playing. Lubet would doubtless cite John Lee Hooker as an influence; I hear Ry Cooder, though maybe through Hooker's prism. The most extrovert piece is the final one; it's also the longest. Elsewhere tone colours are wide and subtlety is at a premium.

Eight Ouds is the best pun I've heard in a while (try saying it aloud; Etudes). They may well be based on the Blues, as Lubet suggests, but this is a long way from Muddy Waters. The music is quite remote and allusive, though when Lubet does break free, as he does in the second Oud, it's a more untrammelled performer evoking the 12 bar Blues with brio. Timbral felicity remains the name of the game in both these sets. East Asian scales are omnipresent and I hear Balinese or Javanese music most overtly in the last of the Ouds.

This specialised disc is for lovers of quietly voiced virtues.

Jonathan Woolf

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