"So you think the allure and intelligence of timestaking composition, thoughtful lyrics and the harmonic structure of real music is a dead art, huh?
Have I got the CD for you. ... Strike a blow to corporate crap and expand your music library with the good stuff." ("Alternatives NewsMagazine" review by Brian Howle, South Carolina)
"Nice feel, good playing. Vocals suit the material nicely. Very impressed." (Allan Kozinn, New York; music critic, New York Times)
"Great melodies, great guitar ability!" (Todd Harrold, Indiana)
"Brings to mind the good aspects of, say, Steely Dan or the Eagles." (Craig Palmer, North Carolina)
"Very nice and tasty stuff and well produced." (Paul Cohen, California)
Red Horizon marks the latest phase of Tad Lathrop's and Don Giller's evolving musical partnership. It began years ago with unadorned acoustic guitar duets--"Leo Kottke in stereo." Today it continues with more elaborate audio creations, distinctive and original yet laced with intriguing hints of pop iconography.
The sounds in this collection range from the shimmering guitars and spiced-up percussion of "Just Started Learning" to the color-splashed imagery and exotic guitar voicings of the title track, "Red Horizon." There's "City Lights," a play on traditional story songs à la "Long Black Veil," and "Little Sister," with its panoramic audioscape and rich choral harmonies.
There's the neo-fusion guitar rave-up "One Night Out," followed by the soothing, stately "Margo’s Theme." Add the epic-length "Straight Time," with its jaundiced take on long-term relationships; a more wistful view of much the same subject in "Wide Open Light"; the folk-rocker "Matter of Time"; and the intricate acoustic guitar duet "Army of Ants."
The song structures and lyrics mostly come from Lathrop. To Tad’s tracks of guitar, voice, and sometimes bass and percussion, Don blends in an array of complementary voices and instruments and polishes the whole with sparkling results.
Tad Lathrop grew up in Greenwich Village in the creative, jazz-inflected milieu of an artist parent--an influence that permeates the lyrics of the song "Red Horizon." Tad gravitated to music early, singing Bach and Bartók in a church choir and spending high school weekends playing garage rock, psychedelia, and blues in a teen rock band. In college, Lathrop took initial stabs at songwriting and crossed paths for the first time with fellow student Don Giller.
Giller, a native of Baltimore with Beatles-Byrds-Buffalo Springfield preferences and a penchant for tinkering with sound equipment, found his early niche at the college radio station, where he deejayed and oversaw production, and where he recorded Tad’s first song. Giller heard something unique in Lathrop’s songwriting; Lathrop admired Giller’s musicianship.
The pair discovered that two acoustic guitarists, playing essentially the same Travis-picking patterns, could generate an appealing live stereophonic effect--especially when amplified by the reverberating acoustics of the nearest dormitory stairwell. As the partnership progressed to college concerts and NYC club dates, those who heard them recognized a compelling musical chemistry.
The chemistry stayed active, even as distinct interests dictated separate but parallel paths. Lathrop pursued a career as a guitarist, making the rounds of clubs in the New York-Long Island-New Jersey area. He worked with singer Peter Gallway on the New England gig circuit playing nightly sets that ranged from western swing and hot-club-of-Nashville country to New York-style rock and soul. Later, he co-led a Brazilian rock ensemble in San Francisco and woodshedded intensively for four years while studying with jazz guitarist Dave Creamer. Back in New York, Tad attended graduate school and followed it with a lengthy foray into the world of music publishing, including books on cult rockers, one-hit wonders and the panoramic "Jazz: The First Century." The latter was a nominee for the Jazz Journalists Association Book of the Year in 2000.
Giller, right after college, played guitar in a San Francisco-based jazz-rock-salsa band and directed an early-music choir. His fascination with early Renaissance composers Guillaume Dufay and Johannes Ockeghem led ultimately to graduate school in musicology at Columbia University and later to a specialization in music editing and print production. A side interest in David Letterman’s Late Night and Late Show, and in recording and archiving nearly every Letterman broadcast, drew attention in the form of a lengthy profile of Giller in the Village Voice. It also gained him fame on the Internet as an expert in all things Letterman, prompting occasional requests for information from Dave’s own staff.
Through it all, Lathrop and Giller periodically returned to their musical collaboration. Old ideas replayed, new ideas explored, and lengthy sessions of experimentation were invariably captured on tape in the confines of Giller’s Upper West Side Manhattan apartment--a.k.a. EarthStation Studios, replete with duct-taped snakes of dusty cords and stacks of well-worn reel-to-reel machines wedged between the latest digital production devices.
When recording technology finally evolved to the point of allowing storage of music on a grand scale at an affordable budget, Giller undertook the project of digitizing all the taped Lathrop-Giller tracks, plus Lathrop's solo work. A period of experimenting with new overdubs and mastering the art of digital production followed, culminating in the Red Horizon collection of songs.
The duo’s original two-acoustic-guitar concept may have changed, but the musical empathy hasn’t. It's fully evident on Red Horizon, a glimpse of extraordinary work by two musical brothers-in-arms.
On "Red Horizon":
"The 'Red Horizon' song I loved. Really dig the sound of Tad's voice--sounds like Clapton. ... Loved the changes, the feel, the guitars. ... You got a winner there." (Rich Leiter, California)
On "One Night Out":
"Best song/track [I've heard] yet. Hints of Cream's 'Deserted Cities of the Heart' in the melody and SRV's 'Couldn't Stand the Weather' in the solo's chord progression. ... Good stuff." (John MacDonald, New Jersey)
On "Margo's Theme":
"I love this. This is just beautiful. My favorite track. It makes me turn up the volume real loud, close my eyes, sway my head back and forth and tap my toes. It doesn't get much better than that." (Pat Fleet, Minnesota)
"My personal favorites are 'Just Started Learning,' 'One Night Out' (with great, playful lead riffs), 'Margo’s Theme,' 'City Lights,' and 'Army of Ants.' Oh, what the hell, I like ‘em all." ("Alternatives NewsMagazine" review by Brian Howle, South Carolina)