AMN Reviews: George Christian – Aos Rios Urbanos (Spectropol Records)

When storytelling, George Christian of Bahia, Brazil, cradles an acoustic guitar. His sound is intuitive, as if, drifting down the semi-titular “Union (To the Urban Rivers)”, he is conveying his impressions of, even interaction with, the passing scene. His meandering tales evoke multicolored, multiplumed imagery, ever so slightly suggesting ideas and melodies that span from choro to Celtic, fingertips as familiar with Egberto Gismonti as Martin Carthy. In actual fact, he recorded Aos Rios Urbanos entirely at home, onto his computer, and polished its body or scored its surface with its software. When they are on nearly equal footing, like “Pure Flow”, strings and wires enmesh and, almost counterintuitively, the piece breathes even more profoundly.

When Christian wields his electric guitar, as on “Resurtection”, it truly becomes an axe, an extension of ineffability, perhaps the “screaming…struggles of existential awakening” mentioned in his liner notes. His furthest-out piece, “New Sadness, or Requiem for Regina Celi”, reveals the strong pull electroacoustic composition exercises on him, though frankly this degree of ambient-cum-noise abstraction cannot compete with multiemotional facets conveyed by, say, “Pure Flow”. The finale is “Aborted Cry”, a bruiser that reluctantly acknowledges the indifference of nature to mankind and its needs with its abrupt end, like heavy snow finally snapping power lines.

Stephen Fruitman