Danish guitarist Steen Grøntved is a veteran of the session music scene having appeared on countless releases over the last few years (within Denmark mostly) across many genres. Steen makes his debut onto the instrumental guitar platform with the fusion/jazz/rock rich ‘Night Vision Goggles’. The album is home to 12 tracks that travel through a myriad of tonalities and cultural expressions with an end product that is very accessible and possesses strong melodic content.
On the music Steen has offered some of his observations.
01 Timber: this song was actually one of the last ones I composed. I was listening a bit to a Greg Howe tune called Jump start on the record ”introspection”, and you can maybe call it a weird paraphrase on that tune (before it got loose!). I call it timber because the stabs in the intro reminded me of a tree falling.
02 The Worm: the composition of this tune is rather not-ostinate-like. One of the reasons is that it is composed and arranged completely without an instrument. It is actually ”written”(with small bars) directly into the key-editor of Cubase. It was one of the first songs I composed and at that time I didn’t have a midi-keyboard.
03 Playground: this track was a little yellow-jackets inspired. It is a very simple melodic, very soft and easy going. A fast composition, it almost made it self.
04 Home planet: a melodic little space-pop tune.
05 Run: when I composed this tune it was actually meant to be a Satriani-like tune. I asked a Danish R&B producer (named Ezi cut) to mix it and the result is something-Joe-Satri-R&B-ani-like! I don’t think I ever have heard that before! (is that good or bad?). The solo has at the beginning a conventional picking sequence, next a long sweep-picking sequence and after the B-part a long tapping sequence. The sound you hear at the very end, is the drumsticks that are being laid down on the snare drum.
06 Bye: ohh haven’t we all tried that?, Can’t fall a sleep because of a heartache. A different version of an internationally famous song, in Danish called ”Mester Jacob”, nobody knows who composed it, so I guess there’s no copyright on that one!! (he-he).
07 Secret lab is like the brother for track 02 The Worm (Same-story).
08 My Butterfly: a nice and calm 8-finger tapping tune..
09 Still Here Josef is singing the intro while he is slapping his leather pans in a very naughty way!
10 Round and around: The bass is making a melody and baseline at the same time, which is typical of some west-African kinds of music. The voice in the beginning saying ”one two” is a Macintosh speaking (I think it is Fred?). The flour-tam has been replaced with a big-drum standing on its diagonal; Which explains the grotesque flour-tam sound. Nikolaj is making a nice bass-solo.
11 What Mango?: if you love dancing to a sexy Mambo-tune you’re probably gonna hate this track. You will soon find out that it is the Mambo from hell. It goes originally in 7, but no one has apparently told the guitarist! It is a song that plays a lot around with poly-rhythms. Lars Ringgaard is playing a nice blues-harp-solo, on this track.
12 Find the pick: This is a “slap-tune” on a Spanish guitar. It is actually recorded with 6-microfones, but we didn’t really pay much attention to that in the mix. During the slap, I’m holding a pick in my right hand all the time (just a habit) and when it suddenly slips out of my hand, you can hear almost exactly where it lands because of the overkill number of microphones.
General Question: why does the synth-themes/solos on NVG have such weird melodies?
Answer: All of the background keyboards is programmed in Cubase, but all of the synthesizer solo’s/themes is played live on the guitar-synthesizer and recorded directly onto the 16-track Tascam why they can sometimes sound a little bit out of tune.
Besides that I have also tuned the guitar-synthesizer in a totally different way. It is tuned with a fifth between each string like a Cello. So the tuning(from the low string) will be: E, H, F#, C#, G#, D#. That gives me almost an extra octave on the guitar (a sharp 7 to be precise), but of course the scales are different(stretchy – stretchy!). The hard work of learning totally different scales for the guitar- synthesizer, pays of in fore an example in the pentatonic benefits; it is easier to make fast pentatonic sequences or even pentatonic sweep-picking.
On the music Steen comments, “I have worked a lot as a studio musician, which means that in most cases I haven’t really been in charge. My goal with making this record was to try to free my mind and just compose the things that came to my mind without worrying about if it was sellable or listenable. In most other relationships I have composed together with other people and there is a lot of advantages by doing that but there are some too by sometime composing alone and I really like both. This is one of the few projects I have been involved in, where I decided to compose and arrange the entire thing alone. It was very hard to find a bass-player that dared to test his skills with some of the weird poly-rhythms. After 3-4 phone-calls with “uhhh....no..well... thats.... not really my style...’s” I finally called Nikolaj Storr who said ”no problem - I’m used to that kind of music!”.