Harris Newman
SAAH052 Ltd. Edition LP
Release Date: September 18, 2007
BUY CD: add to cart
BUY LP: add to cart

Harris Newman - acoustic & electric guitars, lapsteel guitar
Eric Craven - drums ("Thee Opera House Stomp")

Track Listing: Cavalcade of the Sightless - Anamnesis - Decorated - The Malarial Two-Step - Blues for Vilhelm - Golden Valleys as Seen From the East - Our Return to Black Wolf Mountain - Thee Opera House Stomp - I Need a Quarter to Call the Ambulance

Of the players involved in the recent resurgence of fingerstyle guitar, Harris Newman has established himself as a primary envoy on the modern day steel-stringer shortlist. As with the case of his brothers-in-arms Jack Rose, Glenn Jones and Steffen Basho-Junghans, each of whom borrow from the past traditions of mavericks Fahey, Basho et al but have re-invented the sound and style with fresh perspectives, Newman distinguishes his music even further with a very idiosyncratic sound. A fixture in the Montreal scene for years, Newman cut his teeth early on by playing bass in Constellation recording artists Sackville. Currently he is of the duo Triple Burner with cohort Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), and can be found on records by Montreal bands Hrsta and Esmerine. Newman also happens to be the mastering agent du jour for the Montreal scene, bringing sparkle to recordings as diverse as Wolf Parade, A Silver Mt Zion, Fly Pan Am and Carla Bozulich. Its speculation to claim that the post-modern rock sound which has come to define the Montreal scene guides Newman's approach to the acoustic guitar, but it is a resolute certainty that Newman is charting terrain that sounds like few others. Following up the critically acclaimed Accidents With Nature And Each Other (Strange Attractors, 2005), Newman unveils his third album Decorated, yet another beautiful, forward-thinking take on the steel-string sound.

In contrast to the name of the album, Harris Newman opts for a somewhat stripped-down, almost minimalist approach to Decorated. Subtle and introspective, the first half of the album showcases Newman's brand of solo acoustic guitar. Mood and color take precedence, as Newman's fingerpicking weaves tonal spirals across each composition. Melodies bob and weave from alternate pacing, balanced between space and sound like strands of tinsel clinging to a tree. Marking a stylistic turning point in the album, "Blues for Vilhelm" is a humming incantation for lapsteel guitar, a minimalist sound pool rippling ever outwards. Following with the languid improvisation "Golden Valleys as Seen From the East", Newman stretches out and explores intoxicating themes, coaxing out melodies which quickly blossom and decay in slowly unfurling spools. Newman picks up the electric guitar with "Thee Opera House Stomp", and backed by the forward momentum of drummer Eric Craven, the song embarks from a country-blues riff headlong into serpentine trajectory reminiscent of the arty twang of Gastr del Sol.

Extracting elements of folk and blues and exposing it bare, Harris Newman dresses up his music in cinematic, "post-rock" attire. Decorated is accessible solo guitar music for the experimentally minded, a meditative electro-acoustic melding of Leo Kottke and Jim O'Rourke, illustrating why Newman's own take on the tradition sets him apart from the pack.

150gm LP pressed on high-quality Czech vinyl. Limited edtion of 500
Digipak CD

Press: Paperthinwalls, All Music Guide, Dusted
Also available: Accidents With Nature and Each Other, Non-Sequiturs
BUY CD: add to cart
BUY LP: add to cart
Download from iTunes