Kevin Hufnagel is a musician who generally deals in the intense, steely and complex. His work as guitarist for bands such as Gorguts and Dysrthymia has resulted in breathtaking sprints up and down the fretboard, with adamantine riffs and notes tunnelling through labyrinthine songs, leaving fans in awe of his guitar wizardry.
However, on Hufnagel’s new album, Ashland, he steps right off the metal pedal, producing a set of baritone and eight-string ukulele instrumentals. Much like Hufnagel’s metal-oriented work, Ashland contains plenty of nimble-fingered creativity, and the album is flecked with hints of his predilection for the avant-garde. “Ancestral Instinct” and “Perpetual Shadow” bring tumbles of wistful plucks and strums. “Courtyard” and “The Gift” draw diaphanous and romantic pictures with their medieval folk. Meanwhile, “Janda” and “Paths Crossed” drift warmly through the ethereal; all gossamery lilts and delicate picks, adding a touch of the idyllic and haunting. The classical acoustic sounds of Ashland are far removed from Hufnagel’s metal ventures, but he certainly exhibits the same level of virtuosity—albeit in a gentler frame.