The once-dominant disco group Change enjoyed its final hit with this 1985 album.
The lineup had changed radically from the days when Luther Vandross or James Robinson were providing exciting, soulful leads. The leads throughout this session, even on the lone successful single, "Let's Go Together," were more efficient than distinctive. The group's founder, Jacques Fred Petrus, returned to the production helm and recycled the arrangements that once made the group a major act.
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.