Rick Frystak: Blue Light Vista
In Tone Music

Blue Light Vista, the fourth album by native Californian Rick Frystak, presents a well-crafted fusion of acoustic and electronic musics, with much of it presented in a style one might characterize as electronic chamber jazz. Frystak brings decades of experience to the project and puts his talents as a guitarist, drummer, and computer user to good use in the album's tracks. The music, through-composed, thoroughly accessible, and largely harmonic in tone, augments those core instruments with piano, bass, synths, percussion, and electronics. He generally opts for nylon-string acoustic guitar most of the time, though includes occasional fiery passages of electric playing too (“Blueprint” one such example). “Vista,” a plaintive setting for classical acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and exotic percussion (bells, gamelan) establishes the album's genre-transcending spirit, while “Narrative,” a delicate setting for acoustic guitar and piano, finds Frystak supplementing those sounds with sampled vinyl crackle and vocal and whistling sounds.

Pat Metheny would seem to be an obvious yet unavoidable reference point as many of Frystak's pieces could pass for Metheny compositions and the style of acoustic guitar playing also draws a connecting line between them. That's never felt more strongly than during “Cue” when Metheny-esque melodies and guitar playing are augmented by drum brushes and acoustic bass playing, suggestive of the kind of acoustic trio playing Metheny sometimes indulges in. The melodicas and acoustic guitars floating through “Blueprint” and “Quintessence,” anchoring the pieces as drum fills and cymbal flourishes flutter around them, are similarly imbued with traces of Metheny's painterly style. That the guitarist is an oft-hovering presence isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, as Blue Light Vista hardly suffers on purely listening grounds as a result of the connection. In fact, one of the things that favours Frystak over Metheny in this case is that the thirty-eight-minute Blue Light Vista is free of the kind of extended soloing that naturally figures plentifully on the prototypical Metheny recording. Frystak also applies liberal doses of electronic manipulations to the material by shaping and subtly tweaking the collective wholes, a move that gives the album's pieces an elasticity they wouldn't have minus the interventions.

April 2011