Wednesday, November 3, 2010

M. Mucci - Time Lost [The Tall House]

Any regular reader here should know I really love solo guitar. A lot of times I end up praising all the wild men like Chris Cooper, Bill Nace, Brian Ruryk, Bill Orcutt etc. but you know what? I also dig guitar in the more conventional mode. This LP right here by M. Mucci is one of the best in that vein I've heard in sometime. Actually, it's one the best guitar records of any "vein" that I've heard in recent memory.
Laying out 8 tracks, 4 per side, Mucci goes to town armed without much more than his six-string. As far as I can tell, there is no improvisation here. Everything is composed and performed to a tee, and beautifully I might add.
"Small Triumphs" features robust arpeggios and a kiss of steel guitar as well. Two of Mucci's greatest strengths are his use of dynamics and pacing. He's not afraid to employ silence but he doesn't overuse it either. He uses it here to build momentum between melodies but before long the piece can just coast on its own supple energy. Mucci plays with tempo and volume particularly well, there's a moment where he appears to be winding down before thrusting forth with a new bombastic melody and stereo-panned cymbal swells to back it up. Taking around half of the side, "Small Triumphs" is a winding journey but its the following track "The View from Here" that's my absolute favorite. From the get-go its an uptempo piece with a jaunty, thumb-plucked bass part to go with the glimmering fingerpicked melodies. The piece builds and builds occasionally sliding into the minor key before unleashing a wonderful two-note progression. This is difficult to write about as all I can really say is "this is a great melody" "Mucci plays it extremely well" so all I can ask is that you just believe me. Mucci makes an unexpected divergence in the final part, with an extended breakdown of sorts into the final seconds. "The Culprits" has the faintest hint of Morricone, with sparse guitar plucks and a quiet but tense tone ringing relentlessly just within earshot. From there, Mucci is back to his hypnotic fingerpicking, cranking out a masterful old-timey minor key jammer. Despite the record being consonant overall Mucci isn't afraid to incorporate atonality occasionally here or surprisingly savage slide work either. "Apri L'occhi Pt. 1" is a much too brief and mournful little coda for side A that reminds me of glimmers of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's masterpiece F# A# ∞. Very nice and too short!
Side B opens with "Chase Down Alice St." which would be the perfect choice for a playful montage of a bandit quietly outsmarting the authorities. Rob Cappelletto contributes subtle but stomping drums, imbuing the piece with a touch more energy but without overriding the fabric Mucci weaves. There's a lovely, atmospheric slide breakdown as well. "Moments Between" changes the vibe considerably, with a sparser, darker set of arpeggios that slowly twist along to their conclusion. "A Day Like Any Other" is another favorite. Initially it sounds like a more expanded version of "Moments Between." It simmers, slowly revealing a more complex scheme in brief flickers. New melodies weave their way in amongst the old, which refuse to totally relinquish their grasp. The last couple minutes of the piece are rather beautiful, the notes continue to cycle over a light frost of melodica and Mucci stirs a handful of equally lovely melodies into one big pot. And then it hits, a 3 note phrase on the E-string cuts deep and pulls the rug out. It's a shame that Mucci fades the piece out as soon as that riff shows up, although I suppose that adds more punch to the end of the travels. "Apri L'occhi Pt. 2" is another short coda for the side, and this time the record too. I wouldn't mind hearing Mucci flesh out more works in this cloudy, drifting style.
So the guy's chops and exactness are impeccable, but importantly this record is ridiculously listenable. It really is one of those you can throw on any time. Before work, after work, before bed and any time in between.
It's a hell of a record and The Tall House (which I think might be Mucci's imprint) did a fine job dressing it up as well. Recommended.

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