The latest release from the Georgia Guitar Quartet is a rare project among guitar ensembles: Puzzle features solely original works by members Kyle Dawkins, Brian Smith, Phil Snyder, and Jason Solomon. This companion recording to 2004’s Mosaic (also on Solponticello) fully engages the group’s collective propensity to explore new textures, colors, and forms. Puzzle is an outgrowth and extension of the quartet’s previous endeavors – a diverse sonic vocabulary and emergent musical environment. Journeying from their start in Athens, Georgia to the world stage, the Georgia Guitar Quartet is thoroughly expanding the notion of classical music, bridging into the 21st century.
Puzzle opens with an impromptu Prelude. Its shape is defined by layers and dynamics, with melodic ideas attempting to materialize but remaining unrealized.
Kyle Dawkins' Flight initiates the quasi-tonal, minimalist atmosphere that pervades much of Puzzle. Expanded sounds and percussive elements play an important role in sculpting this soundscape.
Fragmented from a larger work by Jason Solomon entitled Puzzle, the four Pieces interspersed throughout the album function as interludes binding together the recording as a whole. It is a large-scale transformational process with four seemingly disparate motives. The parts repeat incessantly while undergoing gradual and systematic permutation until they eventually merge into the same melodic shape.
Pan is a structured improvisation designed by all four members of the quartet. A skeletal form featuring key moments was established at the outset, while the connecting and fleshing out unfolded freely during the recording session. Themes from other works on the CD are woven throughout Pan, as well as some recycled material from Mosaic.
MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE
Solomon's Middle of Somewhere is a one-way trip, a musical venture that starts and ends in two completely different places. The transition between these two points is continuous, with the landscape changing very slowly. Middle of Somewhere is divided into 6 discrete locations; however, these sections overlap and meld into one another, lending a sense of seamless progress to the music. Beginning with silence punctuated by noise, the piece ultimately concludes in song-oriented terrain.
The appearance of the cello at the end of Middle of Somewhere forecasts the instrumentation of La Vague by Kyle Dawkins. Phil Snyder performs on cello and Dawkins trades his guitar for a banjo. This is a beautiful work balancing notions of stasis and propulsion, struggle and achievement, a fitting metaphor for the larger picture of the Georgia Guitar Quartet.