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BTurner on 08/06/2010 at 02:00PM

Bill Orcutt Live on WFMU (MP3s, Video)

During the 1990's, Miami's Harry Pussy provided among the most confrontational and challenging recordings and live sets to a post-hardcore generation, and Bill Orcutt's blasted guitar playing defied easy categorization. Such is the case upon his return last year with a solo LP A New Way to Pay Old Debts, whereupon he takes an old Kay acoustic guitar rigged with a found pickup and tears out some unbelievably gutted, aggressive yet defined picking/shredding compositions to make even even seasoned guitar composition connoisseurs turn their heads for the mere reason that you've rarely heard the instrument approached this way. Comparisons to the woolier moments of Cecil Taylor, fractured player-piano-roll sounds of Conlon Nancarrow all enter a decidedly unguitar-like realm of performance, with gutbucket resonations and almost microtonal approach to strings in the spirit of pure freedom and anarchy.

This session on Brian Turner's show came during several days of New York shows (one of which featured a full on guitar battle with Sir Richard Bishop), and was recorded in WFMU's palatial 4th floor lavatory by David Mambach. During the Bishop show, which happened at Zebulon, I conversed with a friend of a friend who I think came out unprepared for the onslaught, having read a NY Times preview and possibly expecting some world/folk stylings of a more traditional sense. He laughed outloud as Orcutt's opener set barrelled into a flurry of violent acoustic battery, and asked me if it was a joke. But as the set progressed, his eyes remained wide open and at the end was totally in awe, citing some clear Skip James and flamenco cornerstones being touched, albeit turned inside out. He was impressed. Enjoy some guitar playing unlike you've ever heard.

bill orcutt, guitar


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