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Ghost Canyon

Title - Fractal Guitar 2
Artist - Stephan Thelen

For those unaware, Fractal Guitar 2 (out July 16th, 2021 via MoonJune Records) is an instrumental album that features the multi-layered, atmospherically dense and polyrhythmic tapestry for which is Sonar is well known, but focuses much more on the sonic and ambient possibilities of the electric guitar.

The minimal groove aspect of Sonar is still present, but in a much more progressive rock context. In the liner notes for Fractal Guitar, Stephan Thelen writes: After a few years of playing without effects apart from reverb in Sonar, I felt the urge to compose and record some pieces in which effects were an integral part of the music.

I especially wanted to use an effect I worked with before Sonar, which I call Fractal Guitar, a rhythmic delay with a very high feedback level that creates cascading delay patterns in odd time signatures such as 3/8, 5/8 or 7/8.

The other desire I had was to work with and to have some serious fun with a few of the many great guitarists I have met over the years to create an album that features some of the more forward-looking possibilities of the most mysterious, compelling and eclectic of all instruments, the electric guitar.

1. Cosmic Krautrock (14:06)
2. Fractal Guitar 2 (07:53)
3. Mercury Transit (12:03)
4. Ladder To The Stars (14:49)
5. Celestial Navigation (12:27)
6. Point Of Inflection (12:13)

Opening on the near 15 minute opus Cosmic Krautrock, a veritable smorgasbord of musical shapes and sounds, its hypnotic, free flowing charms are backed seamlessly by the mellower indentations of the title track Fractal Guitar 2 and then we get the harmonious, and yet at times screeching, nay soaring guitar melodies of one of my own personal favorites, Mercury Transit.

Up next is another near 15 minute opus, this time in the form of the mid-tempo, drum-led, guitar-embedded gossamer of Ladder To The Stars, with the album rounding out on the more prog direct guitar work of Celestial Navigation, closing on the cinematically fervent score lines of Point Of Inflection.

Stephan Thelen is American born Swiss who composes, produces and performs music at the fringes of rock, jazz, experimental, progressive, ambient and minimal music.

His current main project as a leader, guitarist and composer is the minimal groove band SONAR, who have quickly gained international reputation for creating a unique blend of polyrhythmic music that fuses a rigorous minimal concept with the power of a rock band and the sensitivity of a jazz combo.

The celebrated KRONOS QUARTET recently recorded and frequently performed Stephans string quartet Circular Lines, a piece commissioned by the Kronos Arts Association and Carnegie Hall for a visionary project called Fifty for the Future.

Thelen reports: In November 2019, I was in San Francisco recording tracks with Henry Kaiser, Andy West (Dixie Dregs) and Chris Muir. When I flew back home, I realized that I already had some great material for a new Fractal Guitar album.

Because of the pandemic that soon arrived, the album was created almost entirely during lockdown. I would usually start with an odd-meter groove and add textures, guitar parts and keyboard patterns.

Then, I would send this groove to (guitarists) Markus Reuter, David Torn, Jon Durant, Barry Cleveland or Bill Walker, depending on whose style I though would fit best. Slowly, the pieces started to take shape.

The next step was recording the drums in a studio and I was lucky to have two master drummers, Manuel Pasquinelli and Andy Brugger, who both did a great job bringing these often complex and polyrhythmic grooves to life.

The last step was adding percussion (played by Andi Pupato), additional keyboards (played by Fabio Anile) and bass (played by touch guitarist Stefan Huth).

The album was mixed by Benjamin Schafer & Markus Reuter in Berlin during August 2020 and mastered by Alexandr Vatagin in Vienna during September 2020.

All tracks written by Stephan Thelen except: Ladder to the Stars written by Stephan Thelen & Fabio Anile and Point of Inflection written by Stephan Thelen & Barry Cleveland.

Recorded at various locations across Europe and North America between November 2019 and July 2020.

Recording engineer at MegaSonic, Oakland, California: Jeremy Goody.

Official Purchase Link