The annals of music history are overowing with gifted guitar players whose egos prevented themfrom reaching their full potential: rather than being content to be exceptional members of a band,they instead create unexceptional records as leaders in vain attempts to prove their worth as soloartists.Guitarist-songwriter-bandleader Chris Forsyth is the rare exception that proves the rule. Rightfullybut somewhat reductively known as a guitar player par excellence, one listen to Forsyth's latestdouble album, All Time Present, reveals that while his dazzling musicianship can always be takenfor granted, it's hardly the whole story. Forsyth's albums-presented with his Solar Motel Band ornominally solo, as here-have always been evidence of a musical mind brimming with ideas.Forsyth is joined on All Time Present by bassist Peter Kerlin and multi-instrumentalist Shawn EdwardHansen, both longtime foils; new to the group is Ryan Jewell, a sublimely talented drummer whosemusicality is seemingly bottomless. With this group, Forsyth is at the peak of his powers.All Time Present is the rare double album that goes by in a ash. Indeed, one of Forsyth's greateststrengths as a composer and bandleader is his consistent ability to sustain interest even when athis most brazenly improvisational: he drifts, but he never meanders. On All Time Present, Forsyth'sparticular drift is like that of a proverbial wallflower with a sudden surge of unselfconscious courage:toward the dance floor.
It's hard to imagine who Forsyth's contemporaries might be, but it's always been that way: the greats tend to feel a little out-of-plumb with their moment (only hindsight lets us see it otherwise), and Forsyth's music has been sparring with some large forces from the beginning. He's always united the homely with the astral, the abstract with the visceral in his Solar Motels and Intensity Ghosts. There's something different about Dreaming In The Non-Dream, though. There's a fresh economy involved here, a sense, strange as this is to say about a record with two songs longer than eleven minutes, of not a note wasted. Despite psychedelic leanings, Forsyth's records have always trained toward concision -- plenty of space, yet never slack -- but these tunes erupt with startling swiftness, then spend the rest of their quick-burning lives teasing multiple moods and patterns out of relatively simple materials.
After a year of touring, The Solar Motel Band returned to the studio last spring with Jeff Ziegler (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) to put to tape the massive and immense The Rarity of Experience. This double album (officially The Rarity of Experience part I & II) sees Forsyth and his band stretching out their sound beyond anywhere they've gone before, touching on all corners of progressive, psychedelic and post-rock.
Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp have earned reputations as fierce, creative artists and respected masters of their instruments (guitar & synthesizers, respectively). "The Island" is the 2nd collaborative album from these Philadelphia and Brooklyn-based musicians. Rehearsals for the sessions amounted to a couple of days drinking wine, cooking, and hanging out on the beach at the Jersey Shore, and the rhythm and motion of the water seems to have had an undeniable effect on the sessions. The result is an album that despite the freewheeling nature of it's origins, sounds thoroughly composed & song-oriented. Songs like "Long Beach Idyll" and "Cosmic Richard" fuse Forsyth's desert-dusted guitar & Holtkamp's cascading electronics into airy, blissful meditations afloat on an endless ocean, while "Sun Blind" and "Alternator" crackle with intensity, with both musicians seemingly coaxing each other towards something new and primal.
Intensity Ghost is a follow-up to last years critically acclaimed Solar Motel album, which made year end lists at The New Yorker, Uncut Magazine and Popmatters and provoked ecstatic comparisons; from Television and Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Richard Thompson and The Grateful Dead. Solar Motel came together as a solo album but the band Forsyth assembled to tour the record - bassist Peter Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin'), and drummer Steve Urgo (ex-War on Drugs) - took things to another level and quickly became a powerhouse. Forsyth brought the group into the studio in late 2013 to capture what became Intensity Ghost, a 5-track masterwork of grace and power.
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Dreams is a reissue of Chris Forsyth’s second solo album. In 2009 Forsyth pressed up 100 LPs for a European tour and created quite an uproar of approval by the heads who managed to score a copy. Now available again, Dreams rightfully shows Forsyth at the creme of American guitarists who blend masterful skill of country/blues with sometimes violent aggression or mind-bending arrangements. Dreams was recorded and mixed between 2007 and 2009 and catches Forsyth in the studio layering acoustic and electric guitars and organ with contributions from his guests, creating four pieces which are full of the raw power and intuitive delicacy that characterizes his live shows still. Dreams crosses free-wheeling minimalist rock balladry and anarcho-improv surrealism with a fearless approach to beauty in a deeply psychedelic landscape. It features contributions from his Peeesseye bandmates Jaime Fennelly (synth on one track) and Fritz Welch (drums and vocals on another) as well as the soaring trumpet work of Nate Wooley and organ, saxophone, and snare drum overdubs by another longtime collaborator of Forsyth’s in Phantom Limb & Bison, Shawn Edward Hansen. This is Forsyth’s second solo record, preceding Paranoid Cat, which was released on LPâ€ˆearlier this year on Family Vineyard.
Paranoid Cat is Philadelphia guitarist Chris Forsyth’s third solo album and the first for Family Vineyard. It is a sprawling, harmonically-charged side-long suite backed by a clutch of compositions merging raw and delicate American roots traditions. After more than a decade trotting the globe and recording with a mess of today’s avant garde greats, plus co-leading the brazenly absurd Peeesseye, Forsyth has arranged a full-band with dummer Mike Pride and members of D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Peeesseye, and Mountains to accompany his electric six-string vision of interlocking arpeggios and maximalist peaks. The kaleidoscopic arrangements of Paranoid Cat are a leap from the stripped down attack on Forsyth’s hotly acclaimed 2009 Dreams -- to be reissued by Family Vineyard later this year -- with hints of John Fahey's “America,” Richard Lloyd's work with Television, John Lee Hooker, and Van Dyke Parks all being identifiable somewhere in the swirling mix.