Steve Raegele: Last Century (2010)
Guitarist Steve Raegele brings a multifaceted presence to his debut, Last Century. Raegele, who is based in Montreal, Canada, was the lead guitarist of the psychedelic rock band The Besnard Lakes, and a member of drummer Thom Gossage's Other Voices. He was at home in the radically different approach of the two bands, an assured player who found his muse, no matter what the idiom. He now shows just how exploratory and sensitive he can be to differing norms of sound, composition and free play.
Raegele shuffles moods with the air of a conjurer. He parlays instant improvisation with Gossage and bassist Miles Perkin, interlocking ideas and developing themes with an innate synergy. Time and pulse are at his finger tips.
Gossage, who is a premier figure in improvisatory music, opens a sonic trail on "Last Century," an ode to the assemblage of sounds that are compact in their logic and attention to detail. The canvas is daubed gradually, the patterns cast deep until the guitar opens the harmonic palette and the bass dips into arco. The tension nevertheless continues to be taut to the end, until the trio loosens up and jumps into a playful " Δ (Sisyphus)." The triangle denotes the perspectives of the trio coming together.
"The Opposite" is a classic example of how the band builds trajectory using melody and improvisation, while changing pulse and tempo. Reagele and Perkin engage in conversation with space breathing openly, as the notes of the guitar chime against the plucking of the bass. And then comes the explosion, clothed in intensity as the trio runs up a melodic swath of swirling hue. But the path to invention is not defined, and the crescendo is stilled as Raegele calms the tide and lets a crystal evoking of the theme carry the tune out.
This music fascinates and thrills in its many manifestations and underlines the presence of an undoubted talent.
Track Listing: Last Century; Δ (Sisyphus); Janet Jackson; Stop Short; Δ (Daedalus); The Opposite; Δ (Hercules); Verdun; Fight Club the Rabbit; Pareidolia; Δ (Bacchus).
Personnel: Steve Raegele: electric guitar; Miles Perkin: acoustic bass; Thom Gossage: drums, kalimba.