Leo Abrahams: Scene Memory

Someone please give Philippe Petit an award or medal of some kind. Instead of milking trends and profiting from it, the BiP_HOp label head repeatedly offers new voices an international forum for their music, Leo Abrahams' Scene Memory merely the latest example. His follow-up to 2005's Honeytrap presents 12 textural studies for solo electric guitar recorded in real time with the instrument augmented by laptop treatments. Doing so enables the Eno and Ed Harcourt associate to generate and construct multi-tiered settings that suggest a sextet of guitarists carefully weaving lines together (“Soon”) or a lead player emoting over crystalline atmospheres (“Empty Shell”). “Below Ground” features Abrahams' aquatic lead (sounding a little bit like Andy Summers) unfurling against a softly billowing cloud while the hymnal “Rings” and “Love Unknown” impress as particularly lovely.

Scene Memory is the furthest thing from ear-shattering dissonance—you'll find no moments of bludgeoning caterwaul or harrowing tumult here. Instead, Abrahams favours rapturous settings filled with entrancing textures and themes (“Anemone”) or ambient meditations built from clusters of chiming reverberance (“A Different Light,” “Route 11”). He cites Morton Feldman as an influence, and the composer's impact is heard in time-suspended pieces like “Pendulum.” If anything, a mood of bucolic elegance is nurtured so consistently that when a relatively more aggressive or moody episode arises (“Signal,” “Gone”), the effect is doubly startling. A consistently satisfying exercise in ‘solo' guitar explorations, Scene Memory strikes a deft balance between experimentalism and accessibility throughout its 46 delicately sculpted minutes.

October 2006