Two inventive acoustic guitarists go electric…
As ever, that’s not quite the whole story. To even reference “going electric” lifts eyebrows from some circles no doubt, but that was then, and this is now. To simply point these works as a logical step in a “post-Basho, post-Fahey” tradition misses, I think, several points at once; not least the range of influences already tractor-beamed, swallowed, digested by this pair. Joynes especially has already been using collage influenced tactics on his records; field recordings, tape manipulation, effects.
Enough talk – just listen to this record. It shimmers, it buzzes, it has depth-charge reverb. Davis’ pieces have a stately widescreen feel (in particular Sigil Eyes, with hidden textures floating just under the surface), Joynes’ a slightly manic garage intensity – fuzzy and tearing at the seams. Alternating between players, the record draws lines out from British folk standards (Bold William Taylor) via the alternate tunings and modes drawn from further afield; the influence of the drone and the raga form are present, but worn lightly. Beautifully recorded, Spilt Electric allows all the ringing tones produced by amplified, electric guitars due prominence. (Indeed the LP could act as a love letter to obscure electric guitars if you were so inclined: 1968 Teisco EP-8T! 1973 Starway MJ-2L!)
Spilt Electric is the sound of possibilities, of potential, of the opening up of new sounds in old tunes. From the swirls of Davis’ Scaraboo to the off kilter ragtime of Joynes’ Joynes, NC, it just sounds gorgeous, and you should go and grab a copy now.