Win Records, Released 1998
Whatever your preconceptions about solo acoustic guitar, put them aside before listening to this record; it doesn’t fit into folk, classical, jazz, or any other category.
Rod Poole uses just intonation, a tuning system with different underlying mathematical relationships from conventional western turning, to coax overtone-rich sounds from his guitar. His music doesn’t progress along a linear melodic path, but it also avoids the pronounced discontinuity characteristic to free improvisation. Instead, it focuses on gradually evolving changes in timbre and texture. Poole plucks intricate figures which become surrounded by an aura of ringing overtones; as his finger-picked patterns change, that aura shifts and shimmers like St. Elmo’s Fire around a ship’s mast. The effect is a little like that achieved by an Indonesian gamelan orchestra, but Poole does it with one guitar.
Over the course of 52 minutes “The Death Adder/December 96” moves from dense, chiming thickets to stark, lonely reverberations. The piece’s cumulative effect is hypnotic and gorgeous without ever lapsing into bland prettiness.
— Bill Meyer
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