Lovely music, wonderfully performed
"Solo guitar 8" is the eighth CD in a series of acoustic, solo guitar productions by Kip McAtee, and each CD of this series a treasure. This latest addition is absolutely wonderful. Kip McAtee's guitar work is technically masterful and exquisitely expressive. His playing shows a love and sensitivity for these beautiful songs, and he always always demonstrates a fine sense of musical comprehension, as well as, a high level of technical accomplishment. His selections move through various genres, like classical, jazz, modern, and popular, and the musical styling is an adept synthesis of the clarity of solo guitar and a deep understanding and appreciation for the material. The musical complexity is displayed wonderfully in the seeming simplicity of the solo sound. The guitar playing is simply stunning! This music can be enjoyed both as background music or as a directly focused listening experience. I find the music to be engaging, enlivening, and enriching. I love these CDs, and I especially love this latest edition to the series. I highly recommend "Solo guitar 8."
Clean, Clear and Masterful
Lovers of clean, light, solo guitar music will find another quality album in Kip McAtee: Solo Guitar 8. This instrumental album works well as background music while you are working, or if you want something to chill out with and don't want heavy lyrics, emotionally-involved themes, or anything that gets your heart rate up.
This is the eighth of Kip's annual forays into solo guitar music. He also plays guitar and tambura on two albums (Ends of the Earth and Foreign Accent) with Partners in Time, a Balkan music band with jazz-influenced fusion.
This collection has a definite Latin influence, noticeable in some songs with Brazilian rhythms. In others, there is just a more subtle undertinge somehow, most likely because Kip's been listening to a lot of that kind of music lately, and his playing reflects it.
For example, he does several Earl Klugh numbers. Kiko (Track 1) has one or two nice flamenco-like rolls or trills, or whatever they are called when the guitarist rolls all their fingers across the strings. The song is kind of a cross between a road-trip-with-the-breezes-blowing-in-your-face kind of feel and pensive, quiet breaks sitting under a tree in the shade.
Cavatina (Track 5) is a lilting, quiet song reminiscent of a lullabye. It reminds me a little of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but without the sadness.
Dr. Macumbo (Track 6), another Klugh song, feels like the music from an action sequence of a James Bond movie. There is drama with bass tones, but it's never heavy. Kip's style is always light or soulful, never muddy or messy…and that goes for all the songs, not just this one.
One thing that bothered me was a soft plasticky buzzing sound on Overjoyed, (Track 11) which especially bugged me because I love Stevie Wonder's version. It might just have been the end of string vibrating against the guitar, but little things like that can bother me.
The album ends with two original songs, Not a Klugh (track 15), which, oddly enough, doesn't remind me at all of Earl Klugh…but perhaps that's the point!…and Rundown (Track 16). This one is an almost hypnotic series of minor-resolving-to-major runs. Kind of reminds me of watching drops of rain running down a window. They all take different yet similar paths and all end up at the bottom.
What makes Kip's music so successful for me is the fact that he is such a rhythmical player. His music is heartfelt and gently decorated with delicate runs, as opposed to being overwhelmed by them. Gentle is the right word, too. His notes are caressed and coaxed, not hammered out, and never strummed.
But in addition, he maintains clear and steady grooves in his music. Nothing bugs me more than musicians who cannot keep time. Call it a bias, since percussion is my first love. But it's why classical music drives me insane…it rambles.
It's especially difficult to keep rhythm going in a song when you are the only instrument. Kip manages to keep the sound crisp and open at all times, yet he still infuses rhythm and harmony without having a backup guitar or any rhythm section. It's just him and his instrument. Just clean, clear guitar, simple without being plain.
Kind of like the way you can eat simple food prepared by a good chef that doesn't taste like plain, boring food. Each element comes through and can be appreciated for what it brings to the table, and everything is well balanced and tastes great together.
Kip's music is like that. He leaves enough space between the notes, in the right places, that you can appreciate the beauty of what is there. It sounds simple, but it is far more complex than it appears.
For me, I need to be in the mood to listen to it. But that's because I have extremely limited tolerance for anything without percussion in it. The fact that I can listen to it at all is a testament to Kip's first-class musicality.
If you can catch Kip in action at a gig in Honolulu, jump at the chance. And dance along, if we're dancing to it! Otherwise, you can sample his solo work in this lovely CD