Web Exclusive! CD Review: Spectra-Guitar in the 21st Century

Quietdesign Records is an Austin-based label that releases beautifully packaged, audiophile recordings of contemporary artists working far beyond the constraints of the commercial music market. 
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Spectra-Guitar in the 21st Century comprises experimental works by Tetuzi Akiyama (Tokyo), Sebastien Roux (Paris), Kim Myhr (Oslo), Duane Pitre (New York), Cory Allen (Austin), Erdem Helvacioglu (Istanbul), Keith Rowe, Jandek, and label president Mike Vernusky. Although the album opens with solo acoustic guitar (Akiyama’s “Three Small Pieces”), the compositions are generally electro-acoustic in nature, ranging from a single guitar processed through elaborate electronics (Helvacioglu’s majestic “The End of the World”) to small ensembles (Pitre’s droning “Music For Microtonal Guitars and Mallets”) to mysterious noise paintings that offer few clues as to their origin (Rowe’s “Fragment From A Response To Cardew's Treatise”). Whatever the means of production, if you are tired of the same old types of guitar tones and music, or merely curious as to what lies in the outer reaches of 6-stringdom, these intriguing and often brilliant recordings will open your eyes, your ears, and very likely your mind. Highly recommended. —Barry Cleveland