Ivanovich Solo Guitar

Given the instrument’s central role in pop culture over the last 50 years, it takes guts to put out a solo record. They tend to focus on blinding, perfection-seeking technique, ridiculous electronic excess, or out and out weird wanking. Fortunately, Chuck Johnson’s Ivanovich project avoids these fates. Judging from the stacks o’ hiss and occasional bird noise it sounds like he recorded this on his front porch in Chapel Hill, NC; the recording seems so charmingly off the cuff you can almost hear him reach over to hit stop on the four-track at the end of each piece. There is a nice balance between relaxed playing, gently prepared guitar, and low-tech effects. Little more than volume, reverb and distortion pedals come into play here and both are used to create sounds of great individual nuance; often the sound of a pedal that needs a new battery will be a central sonic element. No particular genre of music dominates the playing, although country twang does figure in at times. Johnson’s greatest compositional strength is to leave a good deal of space between the notes to maximise the usage of effects. Solo Guitar is a mellow but accomplished piece of work that takes a few spins to fully sink in. (Amish)