Music

Stian Westerhus: Pitch Black Star Spangled

Elegant, visceral guitar improvisations from a Norwegian stalwart.


Stian Westerhus

Pitch Black Star Spangled

Artist Website: www.stianwesterhus.com
Label: Rune Grammofon
US Release Date: 2010-06-22
UK Release Date: 2010-06-14
Label Website
Amazon
iTunes

V.S. Pritchard once described an Elizabeth Bowen short story as a “glancing form of fiction that seems to me right for the nervousness and restlessness of contemporary life". The same might be said of Stian Westerhus's solo guitar work and furthermore the key to enjoying this entire album may be to listen to the shorter tracks first. The mounting euphoric jangle of “Trailer Thrash Ballad”, for example, sounds as if Westerhus has been gnawed to death by remarkably musical rats who are now nibbling his strings, wailing with ecstasy and messing about with tapes he recorded earlier. Equally, “Sing With Me Somehow” balances atmosphere of mourning and danger with a beautiful slow pace. The effect is akin to being drawn through fog toward a beautiful siren; and then being held underwater involuntarily.

Longer, stranger sections of Pitch Black Star Spangled such as the title track and “The Antagonist” feature an invigorating approach to improvisation. Westerhus has played with a number of groups including Jaga Jazzist, Monolith (with a member of the underrated band Motorpsycho) and Puma. His use of feedback, pedals, unidentifiable digital shenanigans, sustain, weird fingerings, and his manic style and sheer stamina had me wondering if he’s come to praise the guitar, or bury it. Johnny Be Goode may have played guitar like he was ringing a bell but Stian Westerhus appears to be doing some unspeakable things to his; the least of which is wringing it’s bloody neck.

7

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
Books
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.