AMN Reviews: Van Stiefel – Spirits [Panoramic Recordings pan21]

Guitarist/composer Van Stiefel’s Spirits is an album of music for multitracked guitar inspired by early experiments with overdubbing by guitarists Les Paul, Chet Atkins, and Glen Campbell. The techniques Stiefel used to construct his tracks may be similar to these other guitarists’ efforts, but the sounds are contemporary, varied, and entirely his own.

King of Cups opens the album with a languid slide melody over a shimmering foundation, and is quickly followed up by Solace, the first of several shorter tracks apparently assembled from fragments of solo guitar recordings. Memory Jug contains layers electric guitar over a gamelan-like foundation of detuned acoustic guitar and computer-generated sounds. On Harbor, processed piano in stuttering rhythms underlies a spare guitar melody. The introspective Ghost Flare puts electric over acoustic guitar for a moody, ECM-ish, sound.

A fine album of sensitively constructed music.

Daniel Barbiero

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