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65 GUITARISTS (ONE AT A TIME): The $100 Guitar Project (dbl CD)
Sometimes a great notion: Charles O’Meara (the artist formerly known as Chuck Vrtacek) stumbles across a $100 guitar; he and Nick Didkovsky buy it and then send it around to 63 other guitarists who each record a shortish piece (they can keep the guitar for the maximum of a week, and no permanent modifications to the instrument are allowed) and – presto - here’s a double CD that races across a lot of what can be done with an electric guitar. Many styles and aesthetics in a slice across e-guitar world, date-stamped. Most are solo, or multi-tracked, some feature other instruments and a few weigh in with a full band (CD 1 is your rock side, mentioned in dispatches must be hats-off Chris Murphy, Greg Andersen, Andy Aledort, Mark Hitt, Joe Berger). There are names you probably know (inc. Amy Denio, Biota, Nels Cline, Ron Anderson, Rhys Chatham, Han-earl Park, Mike Keneally, Larry Polansky, Bill Brovold, Fred Frith, Tom Dimuzio, Janet Feder, Steve Maclean, Henry Kaiser, Ken Field, Elliot Sharp, Keith Rowe, Mark Stewart…) and names you probably don’t (this was an American project, though the guitar did travel to Europe) but the inventiveness and quality cuts across the known and unknown line. Listening to this fascinating collection, you’ll confirm where your musical or sonic sympathies lie. Of course, it’s a mixed bag, but in our target-market get-what-YOU-want-and-ignore-the-rest environment, it’s good to get to meet some of the neighbours you never speak to once in a while. In the end the content is bound to reflect the project masters’ circle of acquaintances, so it’s fortunate that Chuck and Nick are a gregarious and eclectic mote in the eye of foursquare conformity. Educational.