Steve MacLean

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
The Opposite of War (1999), 6/10
Bridges (2007), 6/10
Frog Bug Guitar Computer (2008), 6.5/10
GPS (2011), 5/10

New York-based guitarist Steve MacLean, briefly a member of Nick Didkovsky's Dr Nerve and a co-founder of the Portland Experimental Music Collective, formed his own quartet (with Tim Inman on keyboards, Jim McGirr on bass, and Dave Fields on drums) and released the all-instrumental album The Opposite of War (ReR, 1999). The lively chamber jazz-rock music of Windows Pt 2 and Windows Pt 1 is modulated by a frenzy of tempo shifts, with more than a hint of Frank Zappa's influence. The other tracks, notably Branches, walk a fine line between lounge music, minimalist repetition, neoclassical passages, and exotic rhythms.

Radial Circuit (Mobius)

The double-CD Bridges (ReR, 2007) compiles works spanning two decades and several styles, from the mechanic ballet No Jazz (1989) to the piano sonata In and Around Susan (2006) to the symphonic poem Maneuvers (1990) to the King Crimson-ian prog-rock of One Little Life (2001). The second disc, devoted to electronic experiments, runs the gamut from ambient music to musique concrete. The highlights are the haunting soundscapes of Guitar Loom 1 (1997) and 2 Short (2004), and the symphonic pastiche Bridges (1994).

Frog Bug Guitar Computer (ReR, 2008) presents another facet of the guitarist. Here MacLean coins a form of chamber music that unites the three fundamental elements: nature, music and computer. Each piece is the outcome of a carefully crafted "improvisation" between field recordings (of frogs and insects), MacLean's guitar and the computer's software. MacLean doesn't focus on sound for the sake of sound, but seems intent in unraveling a rational discource between these elements. His approach is more similar to the collective soundsculpting of a jazz ensemble than to the approach of abstract art or to the collage-like audio assembly of musique concrete. Emotionally speaking, the main thrust to the composition comes from a sense of loneliness that probably reflects the way the music was created but also enables for the first time in a fully accomplished manner to penetrate the soul of the artist. The Indian-tinged ecstasy of Reflections on the Bay is particularly powerful in encapsulating a moment's pathos. The guitar unleashes a sorrowful melody in Communications over a bed of reverbs and frog croaking. The austere electroacoustic counterpoint of Night Time centers on the passage of time. MacLean's background in progressive-rock and jazz emerges from the dissonant scales and angular rhythms Bug Time. The Long Road Home is just a multi-faceted cacophonous drone that winds its way into a parallel universe. One just wished that he had spent more time expanding these ideas to become longer works, concertos and symphonies. The most obvious reference, Brian Eno's Before and After Science, was a reflection of the zeitgeist but also of the new electronic media. MacLean's work is a reflection of a new form of art that has been maturing since computer music became a popular medium of expression.

Expressions On Piano (2010) is a collection of piano solos that explore various techniques and settings, occasionally sounding like cubistic deconstructions of classical, progressive, jazz and lounge styles. Notable are the cinematic Impressions on Piano and the playful One Gliss.

Maclean returned to music for ensemble on GPS (ReR, 2011), but this sounded like a version of his ideas for a lightweight Broadway musical. The relaxed new-age tropical fusion Warm Up and the poppy theme and gentle repetition of Wind In Our Hair set the pace. Maclean's impeccable knack for timbre and dynamics shines in the sophisticated eerie atmosphere of Ocean Tales, crafted by sinister drumming, fractured guitar phrases, jazzy piano figures, and slight dissonance. The loose and abstract intermezzo Resonations and the longer Tranquility are intriguing, not to mention the futuristic Whale Wars, but overall the work sounds less intense and focused than past ones.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
What is unique about this music database