A strong set of all-original material that has its cake and eats it too. With unobtrusive electric guitar and bass blending in with more traditional instruments like flute and djembe, it's both more accessible to modern audiences than traditional African instrumentation, and not as pop- and dance-oriented as much contemporary African music. The focus remains on Sangare's gliding singing (thickened by a couple of female backup singers) and the music's looping (but not laid-back) grooves.
This Austrian guitarist and composer is a member of the acclaimed avant-garde group Polwecsel alongside Werner Daffeldecker, Michael Moser, and John Butcher. Here on this solo outing he performs compositions of his own for piano and guitar. These are reduced explorations of sonority that have a Morton Feldman-like sparseness. Like his colleagues, his interests seem to be in the very quiet aspects of the instrument, and only occasionally does this recording rise above a whisper.
The stretches of silence call for deep listening, and the details one can observe then are fascinating and alien. Some of the tones coaxed from electric and acoustic guitars sound more like bowed string, violin, or cello, and at other times have a modulation one would associate more with computer music.
Sometimes they scramble clusters like Derek Bailey, though the guitarist's sensibility is never as rapid-fire as the British improvising master. On "Recital," Stangl shows a great debt to Bailey's work, although it seems so contemplative it is almost like a slow-motion study.
The guitarist seems preoccupied with the resonance of single gestures, often pausing for long durations while the resounding decays. Clearly a master of the instrument, the guitarist is not afraid to explore very unorthodox and nontraditional techniques in his playing. This 1997 CD comes on the Durian label and its austere sophistication is carried through packaging and production. Those interested in Fred Frith, Keith Rowe, and Henry Kaiser could safely put Burkhard Stangl on this list of guitar experimenters.