WILL GUTHRIE – Sticks, Stones & Breaking Bones


My own playing experience began, as a young kid, with drums. Besides hitting them, I used to (lightly) hand-slap rhythms and patterns on the head – tabla style – when I listened to something that grabbed the attention from that point of view (in turn causing alarm to my parents, but that’s another story). This is to say that everything having to do with cadenced beat, in any mathematical combination, sounds extremely natural to this writer’s system. That’s the chief reason behind the enthusiastic response to this solo by Will Guthrie, finding its core significance in the physical properties of the emergence and gradual reinforcement of a pulse, whatever the source.

Divided in three tracks, the album shows an extraordinary symmetry between sheer technique, psychoneurotic repetition protracted until the player’s body fails to keep the same pace of the generated mechanism (“Breaking Bones” is one of the finest efforts I’ve ever heard in that sense, a literal masterpiece of vigorous minimalism spiced with changes of accents and internal subdivisions), and ability in mixing rarefied resonance and subsequent sprightliness (“Stones”). The initial “Sticks” is perhaps the “flashiest” piece (I’m writing this with an ironic smile, of course), meaning that the use of mirroring designs, displacement of the main beats and general command of the percussive palette are here in evidence, as opposed to the endurance tests characterizing the harder sections.

The “glorious imperfection” of all the components does the rest: I truly felt like a microphone stuck in the very inside of each part of the drum set. The skins oscillate with the same intensity of a throbbing heart, the metallic rattling adds a slight aroma of danger. One envisions Guthrie’s muscles progressively getting tense, up to the reaching of a saturation stage. And yet the record gives a distinct idea of sheltering force taking its essence from an impressive discipline, only limited by the level of corporeal resistance.

Great, great, great.

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