John Danley

John Danley

Canvas & Rhythm


John Danley demonstrates a superb command of his instrument, the nylon-stringed guitar, on his latest, all-instrumental album. The shuffle boogie of opening track “El Greco” and the immediately following “Self-Portrait Without a Pick” — the latter a stunning track, placing Danley’s organic manipulation of the guitar sounds in the front seat — both serve to convince those unimpressed by the album’s somewhat misleading subtitle, Experimental Guitar Music. Experimental, yes, but not in any avant / new music sense of the word. Rather, Danley’s compositions are often traditionally structured and where they aren’t — such as on the improvised art-noise of “Atama” — they generally fail to impress much.

The big selling point is obviously that Danley plays his guitar with a paint-brush half the time, but even that wouldn’t be enough to raise many eyebrows if it hadn’t been any good. Fortunately, it is. Danley seems to have found his own, highly personal language on the guitar, and if he sometimes fail to apply it, it is all the more intriguing when he does. As such, this album is a halfway success, with tracks like the aforementioned “Self-Portrait…” alongside “Paxil Eyes” and “Double Mezzanine” being particularly fine examples of his technical and compositional skills.

However, the album does loose some momentum halfway through, marked by several weaker compositions and less interesting and energetic performances. Several fine moments make this a worthwhile investment, though, for those intrigued by the man=EDs highly unique approach, and it’s worth checking out for anyone with a heart for folksy and acoustic instrumental guitar music.

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