Tim Brady Symphony #1: Playing Guitar

Tim Brady has been following his own path of frenetic post-Frippertronic technique of rapid fire guitar complemented by electronic processing for decades. This is his first symphony, realised by an ensemble of 15 members — and it’s great fun. There are a number of different ways to analyse this disc: judging it on its compositional merit as a symphony, or deconstructing the relentless shifts in tempo and instrumentation. Instead, let’s dumb it down a lot and call it music for a 21st Century car chase. Digital delays augment hocketing instruments produce 16th notes galore that race across the stereo field. This is an expertly realised recording — Steve Reich could only dream of these kinds of possibilities for mixing engineers when he first recorded his intricate percussion pieces. Movements "One” and "Four” are the most Shaft-like pieces, albeit with funk replaced by non-stop tension — Brady’s not exactly a swinging player or composer, which is part of his charm. These are wisely balanced by sparer passages as in movement "Two,” which features some beautifully slow melodic developments. The action is never too far behind, as the sampler solo in movement "Three” produces a brutish blizzard of guitar snapshots all up and down the keyboard. The whole adventure seems short, even at 46 minutes. Unfortunately, the CD is appended by a more intimate composition for guitar and piano called "Frame 1 - Resonance” that is a too-minimal, too-long coda in relation to what came before. (Ambiances Magnétiques)