Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Solo Guitar is the album length debut from Alan Sparhawk of the minimalist-indie-pop band Low. Listeners expecting the rock & roll element Sparhawk's recently become known for with the Black-Eyed Snakes will be surprise to hear guitar exploration in the vein of 'Do You Know How to Waltz?' or 'Will the Night'. Guitar sounds influenced by underground stars like Aarktica & Reynols as well as guitar heroes like Eddie Van Halen. File under post rock, guitarscapes, ambient, drone, avant garde.
The Wire (p.65) - "[I]t's refreshing to hear that Sparhawk's exploration of drone guitar is firmly dug into rock and even Metal territory."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.100) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n intriguing work of reverb-heavy, metal-stringed experimentation."
Alan Sparhawk's first solo album is a significant departure from his primary band Low's slow-core sound. Recorded as some sort of live experiment, there is no real song structure, or indeed anything but the mercury waves and frenetic cries of a solo electric guitar. What results is an album that invokes a wide range of moods while also managing to be sonically consistent, allowing each piece to add to the unified whole. Largely the songs seem to be musical interpretations of the conditions surrounding a freighter's voyage; take the trio of "How a Freighter Comes Into the Harbor," "How The Weather Hits the Freighter," "...In the Harbor," for example. This is not fancy guitar work by any means, but rather an exploration into how a guitar's sound can be manipulated and mutated to create various atmospheres through unconventional methods, and very likely with the use of an arsenal of effect pedals. Sparhawk certainly achieves several unique, transcendent moments, especially in "Sagrado Corazon De Jesu (Second Attempt)" and "How It Ends." Occasionally, though, the lengthy washes of sound devolve into meandering repetition, even in a few spots to unlistenable noise, and this is when the project loses a certain amount of appeal. That said, it is still a fascinating statement through-and-through, devoid of conventional structure, but often fully captivating and emotionally poignant. ~ Ben Peterson