Album review

Axe Factor

Remember an era, not so long before the stylised '70s rehash of The Strokes or the morose, risk-averse, trad-indie of Stereophonics et al, when there was such a thing as experimental guitar music? An era when it was still thought that Hendrix hadn't drained every last liquid drop of sonic possibility from the fretboard? When the likes of Bark Psychosis, Sonic Youth, AR Kane and MBV immersed and irradiated themselves in the very grain of the instrument's shriek, its drones, its reverbs, its feedback, and imagined the possibility of an entire new virgin world of sound?

Of course, the arrival of electronica meant that such new sound worlds could be more conveniently, albeit less thrillingly, arrived at by twiddling a few knobs or pushing blocks around on a PC screen. Thus the guitar was busted down to its present retrograde status, the trad museum piece for tonal, crowd-pleasing conservatives.

The enigmatic Guitar, a project on the Berlin-based label run by Thomas Morr, doesn't actually add to the lexicon of possibilities created by the avant garde school of 1988-93, but it's a wonderfully nostalgic reminder of a short-lived post-rock subculture of anti-nostalgism. The opening title track, in particular, with its see-sawing guitar frottage, makes the cerebral nerves stand on end, reawakening afresh the memory of hearing MBV's "To Here Knows When" for the first time. Sunkissed is a brainbath the likes of which you won't have experienced in years.

Rating: 4 / 10


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