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Stephan Thelen - Fractal Guitar 2 CD (album) cover


Stephan Thelen



3.42 | 14 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars Swiss guitarist Stephan Thelen has a strong reputation for releasing uncompromising and interesting music, and the latest Fractal Guitar album demonstrates that clearly. Recorded in lockdown, each of the pieces started with Stephan constructing a delay in a weird time signature, building around that, and then sending it off to another guitarist to see what they made of it and what they could add to it. These guitarists, Markus Reuter, David Torn, Jon Durant, Barry Cleveland and Bill Walker would then record their response, and then it would be sent to the next. This resulted in a series of lengthy pieces which often features all the guitarists working in their own style using different types of guitar and effects, to which were later added keyboards, drums, percussion and bass.

Although the album was constructed in a somewhat insular manner, with everyone separate, that does not sonically sound to be the case as it comes across as all musicians working together and not remotely. It seems strange that drums and bass were the last to be added as they have an incredibly important part to play, providing the cut through which is required so that the listener does not become overwhelmed by the guitars. With touch guitars being utilised, sounds are often being produced which are more reminiscent of keyboards, which in turn often are set to be more like an organ to differentiate the sound.

It is a very thick and layered recording, with little space and all guitars being somewhat on top of each other, creating a somewhat dense approach and it is only the rhythm section which contains the lightness to lift the overall sound. I am a huge fan of some of those involved, especially Markus Reuter, yet I think this may have come across better if there were less guitarists and space was allowed to play a much larger part. Undoubtedly clever, there are times when this feels like the soul has been somewhat squeezed out of it.

kev rowland | 3/5 |


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