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Janet Feder


Feder, Janet Frith and Fred : Ironic Universe  (DVD + CD) Feder, Janet Frith and Fred : Ironic Universe (DVD + CD)
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On these disks, Denver-based acoustic guitarist Janet Feder furthers her exploration on the instrument, and teams up with another of the world's most respected guitarists, Mr. Fred Frith. A whole gamut of strange techniques, musical strategies, beautiful tunings and ambiences are employed; The outcome is sure bliss for fans of modern, instrumental music. Part avant-garde, part classical, part folk, in fairly equal proportions, this approach has never before been attempted with such striking success. The DVD portion is separated into 2 segments: Janet's videos were beautifully shot and edited by Hollywood film-maker David Quinn, in a professional studio as she played live. Each track is presented in a different setting to embellish the diverse performances. Fred's video is one, longish improvised session from a recent concert in Boulder, Colorado, also professionally filmed and edited by Quinn. Fred abandoned his electric guitar in lieu of his Taylor acoustic for the event, bringing his playing into a new realm, while still managing to put his many toys (bowls, chains, brushes, dowls etc.) to good use.

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No one until now has proposed an amalgamation of the music of Bert Jansch, Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Karlheinz Stockhausen. By attaching beads, rings and other objects to her acoustic guitar strings, and producing an album of strangely beautiful tunes and ambiences, Denver based guitarist Feder has managed just that. The 'prepared' guitar can send out chiming noises reminiscent of oriental percussion, unexpected out-of-tune twangs, or mimic the distant plunking of an extra-terrestrial harp. Central to the project, though, is Feder's playing and composing; whether engrossed in a Jansch-like fingerpicking folk tune, or a more on the edge bottleneck scraping session, Feder produces music, noises and sounds that are never less than captivating and seductive. The concept of 'experimental' music in evidence here is not of the 'endurance test' variety - this is highly listenable and entertaining stuff. Somewhere between classical composition, experimental instrument design and folk guitar picking with attitude, this unusual album helps to reinvent the acoustic guitar for the 21st Century.