AMN Reviews: Alvaro Domene – The Compass (2018; Iluso Records)

Alvaro Domene is a Spanish guitarist who has been living in New York City for the past several years. His recent collaborators include Briggan Krauss, Joe McPhee, Jim Black, Ches Smith, Mike Pride, and Fred Lonberg-Holm to name a few. The Compass is his first solo release.

Using a 7-string electric guitar and recorded without overdubs, Domene makes use of distortion, electronics, feedback, and delay to create a surprisingly full and dense sound with multiple voices. He alternates between contorted soundscapes, heavy riffing, drones, and more introspective motifs. Domene takes his cue from metal and provides a nod toward the guitar heroics of that genre with arpeggiated chords and aggressive (though not gratuitous) soloing. But he also uses extended techniques, elements of free improv, and a taste of angular jangling. The title track does a decent job of summing this up – it begins with a distorted, shifting wall of noise that evolves and morphs with help of power chords and tremolo. Ultimately, these elements support a brief theme played on the high strings before the piece ends around the four-minute mark.

Comparisons? More like Dirk Serries than Robert Fripp, but with a touch or two of Sunn O))). Highly recommended, especially for electric guitar fans.

 

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