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Stephan Thelen — Fractal Guitar 3
(Moonjune MJR126, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-02-03

Fractal Guitar 3 Cover art

It comes roaring in like a storm from the ocean, a stunning and powerful tempest shaking the very ground that our dreams are built on. This third installment of the Fractal Guitar series is both as welcome as it is unexpected. Before one comes to the false conclusion that these are leftovers from the Fractal Guitar and Fractal Guitar 2 sessions, think again; In fact, if anything, those first two served as guideposts along the way to a certain level of perfection, with even more sessions under Thelen’s (as chief composer and guitarist) and the other players’ collective experience together. In fact while Fractal Guitar 3 was in progress (sessions ran from March 2021 through June 2022), Thelen was working on several other projects, including Music for Piano and Strings (music for piano quintets and string quartets composed by either Fabio Anile or Thelen), Fractal Sextet (with Jon Durant, Fabio Anile, Colin Edwin, Andi Pupato, and Yogev Gabay), and most importantly Transneptunian Planets with J. Peter Schwalm, Eivind Aarset, Tim Harries, and Manuel Pasquinelli. Many of the players on those projects are also playing here on one or more cuts, and the sessions on FG3 are certainly informed by those other sessions. Gabay drums on the first two cuts, while Pasquinelli drums on the other three (the sixth track is a remix / edit of the opener “Through the Stargate” by Schwalm), touch guitarists Markus Reuter and Stefan Huth feature on every cut, with Huth handling the bass duties, even though bassist Tim Harries plays on a few of those cuts as well. Jon Durant plays guitar on most cuts, with Eyvind Aarset on others, in addition to Thelen, who is also credited with keyboards, while Fabio Anile plays keys on several of the cuts, with Andi Pupato (percussion) on several cuts, and Barry Cleveland adds his magic to one number. While opener “Through the Stargate” is over sixteen minutes, the edit / remix only shaves it down to ten, but in either case it’s one of the most impressive pieces here. “Glitch,” co-composed with Pasquinelli, proceeds with an odd-meter strangeness that recalls some of the headier moments of Sonar. Co-composed with Reuter and Schwalm, “Ascension” begins with a driving soundscape loop up to the point where the rhythm section takes over and drives it home for its near-twelve minute duration. All taken, Fractal Guitar 3 is hard to resist, it’s a true powerhouse on many different levels.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Markus Reuter, Barry Cleveland, J. Peter Schwalm, Stephan Thelen, Jon Durant, Stefan Huth

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