Scott McGill — The Hand Farm
(Mellow MMP 324, 1997, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-10-01
Those who are looking for great guitar chops in a free form jazz-rock format need look no further than this new release by New Jersey guitarist Scott McGill and his trio; a casual listen to any of the 11 tracks herein will certainly leave blisters on your fingers. McGill's preferred guitar style is a distorted and angular chord-driven electric jazz with lightning fast lead runs crisscrossing the rhythmic patterns set up by bassist Kevin Woolsten and drummer Anthony DeSimone, an open ended sound with plenty of space for improvisation. Take Larry Coryell around the time of Spaces, give him a grungier sounding axe and put him in an electrified three-piece ensemble and you might come up with something close to this. McGill's punchy guitar attack storms relentless through the entire album, with no vocals and few breathers — you gotta love guitar for this one. Fans of Allan Holdsworth, Fourth Estate, Nels Cline, Tribal Tech and the like will find plenty here to enjoy. If there's anything to fault, it would just be the intense sonic attack that rarely slows enough to allow the listener to find a melodic hook; of course the same charge could be leveled against any of the other outstanding guitarists mentioned in this review. This is technical music, guitar for guitar's sake, your girlfriend probably won't like it. Highest recommendation.
Related artist(s): Scott McGill
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.