This CD contains all three volumes of "Guitar Solos" (originally released on LP) and five tracks recorded in 1988.
If one had to pick a single truly essential album of Fred Frith's solo guitar work, it would probably have to be the Live in Japan box set. That box being long out of print, however, the runner-up for that honor -- and a very close runner-up it is -- would be this of studio work from the 1970s and '80s. It consists of the entirety of Frith's Guitar Solos album from 1974, along with his contributions to the various-artist collections Guitar Solos 2 and Guitar Solos 3, and five newer tracks taken from his performance at the Noise New York festival in 1988. There's no question that this is noise music of the most downtown sort; while snippets of melody occasionally emerge from Frith's guitars, the sounds you hear are, for the most part, completely atonal and generally arrhythmic. But they are never ugly. The otherworldly moans, clatters, shrieks, howls, and seemingly physically impossible echoes and effects that Frith teases out of his guitars are always impressive and are frequently truly beautiful. On "Hollow Music," Frith states a three-note theme using harmonics, then gradually expands and twists it before veering off into alien chordal landscapes; on "No Birds," he layers ethereal sustained chords and distorted feedback to haunting effect; "Should Old Arthur" combines metallic scrapes and almost human wails. While useful as a catalog of extended guitar techniques, Guitar Solos has its greatest value as a genuinely beautiful document of one guitar virtuoso's explorations of that instrument's apparently limitless tonal capabilities. ~ Rick Anderson
Mojo (Publisher) (2/03, p.91) - "...A masterclass in six-string invention....Fans of Brian Eno's pop experimentation should check this out..."
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