Richard Leo Johnson Trio — Poetry of Appliance
(Cuneiform Rune 198, 2004, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2005-03-01
Although the American guitarist has a couple previous releases, this is his first in a trio configuration, in this case with violinist Ricardo Ochoa (who also contributes theremin to some of the tracks) and keyboardist Andrew Ripley. Note the absence of a bassist and drums, which makes this a fairly unusual configuration. Known for his unique self-taught picking style and his twin-neck acoustic, Johnson covers a lot of stylistic territory on the eight tracks herein. Almost a one-man band by himself, his playing pulls every last bit of power and passion out of the entire fretboard; having a bassist on board would only amount to unnecessary redundancy. The lack of drums proves an even more important asset as the trio – not anchored by a drum beat, can freely launch into spirited flights that might take them just about anywhere; on the more aggressive pieces Ochoa and Ripley tend to drive the entire melodic end while Johnson handles just about everything else, while on the softer more dreamy cuts like “Charmin’ Carmen” the melodic and support roles are shared. There are no easy comparisons to be made here, Johnson and company cover way too much area to be easily pigeonholed, though folks who appreciated Pat Metheny’s New Chautaqua or As Falls Wichita, the first two Steve Tibbetts albums, or guitarists like Leo Kottke or Michael Hedges will probably find plenty here to get excited about.
Related artist(s): Richard Leo Johnson
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