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AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Joseba Agirrezabalaga & Mikel Vega – Lepok [Urpa I Musell]

Lepok brings together the two Basque electric guitarists Joseba Agirrezabalaga and Mikel Vega, who recorded these improvisation in June 2021 in Arrasate. It’s a very live-sounding recording that puts the listener right in the middle of the two musicians—so close, in fact, that one can hear the buzz of the amplifiers in the background.

The two guitars are evenly matched in terms of their overall sound—clearly etched tones shimmeringly overlaid with reverb– which gives the music a textural depth derived from accumulating mass rather than from sharply contrasting timbres. The opening track, the clangorous Birjaiotza, pushes this principle to its limit with its harsh, metallic blocks of sound. The title track, which drifts into territory outlined in hum and sparse notes, explores the other, more open possibility presented by textural construction. The playing overall is mostly abstract and somewhat tentative, a reflection perhaps of the fact that the session represents the first time Agirrezabalaga and Vega played together. Nevertheless, the closing track, Mamu kitarjolea, is sure-footed in its deployment of a chord-progression-and-solo structure that coalesces into broad, hammered gestures and squealing distortion.

Daniel Barbiero

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AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Abdul Moimême, Carlos Santos – Transition Zone [Creative Sources CS712]; Mikel Vega – Powndak Improv [Bandcamp]

In May of 2018 Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello and electronics), Abdul Moimême(dual electric guitars) and Carlos Santos (electronics) met for the first time as a trio. The result is this five-track set recorded live at Namouche Studio in Lisbon.

Moimême is no stranger to these pages, having appeared in a duet with saxophonist patrick brennan on 2019’s Terraphonia and with brennan again along with others on 2020’s The Sudden Bird of Waiting, both of which were reviewed here. On Transition Zone he once again is featured playing two electric guitars simultaneously with a variety of outer-edge techniques. Lonberg-Holm also explores the technical borderlands of his own instrument; his pitched, unpitched and semi-pitched sounds, along with extended bowings, complement Moimême’s well-developed repertoire of scrapings, strikes and plucking. Santos adds a continuo of electronic tint to the completely improvised performances. Although the three hadn’t played together as unit before their sympathetic chemistry is immediately apparent on all of these finely sculpted pieces of textural playing. From the scuffed surfaces of Tumultuous, with its harsh weave of feedback, to the long cello tones and ringing open guitar strings of Hushed, Transition Zone shows how three like minds can paint sound from a broad palette of color.

Also worth mentioning is Powndak Improv by Bilbao guitarist Mikel Vega. Like Moimême, Vega is an exploratory guitarist, but of a more conventionally experimental kind. His improvised performances on this album are pitch-predominant albeit tonally decentered; his electric guitar sound is rich with reverb and distortion and at times is directly allusive to heavy metal. On one track he plays acoustic guitar, which he leads through a labyrinth of angular arpeggios and fragmentary chord sequences. On the texturally provocative track Methagaarborg Vega is joined by saxophonist Fernando Ulzión and electronics artist Miguel A. Garcia.

https://www.creativesourcesrec.com/catalog/catalog_712.html

https://mvega.bandcamp.com/releases

Daniel Barbiero