In 2015, a writeup containing a few quite acerbic remarks on David Borden’s aesthetics led to an exchange of emails between composer and reviewer. Following the former’s justifiable displeasure and the latter’s clarifications, several days of lovely dialogue ultimately occurred, touching mainly on family matters. At the time, I expressed regret for not hearing the guitar skills of Gabriel Borden (David’s son) more frequently, given his extraordinary performance on The Continuing Story Of Counterpoint 5-8 (also on Cuneiform). As a response, David – a proud father and a clever man – narrated the growth of Gabriel as a human being and musician. The impressive attributes I learned about him won’t be repeated here; simply put, Gabriel emerges as a veritable prodigy, in various fields of activity, who in just two years of tremendous practice became a virtuoso (and, naturally, a flawless member of dad’s ensemble).
On the other hand, you cannot play scores of considerable intricacy if not gifted with a special brain. It only takes minutes to see what caliber of talent one’s dealing with. For Borden On Borden, Gabriel orchestrated five of David’s pieces efficiently and dramatically, impeccably matching distorted timbres with clean sounds, conceiving functional fingerings for the contrapuntal progression and ceaseless propulsion of the original geometries. For the ears of this babbler – a rather experienced guitarist with a minimalist spirit – this is both a treat and the evidence of how the same composition can be received by a listener in different ways according to the instrument used. As an illustration, thanks to this disc I rediscovered the appeal of Part 9 of TCSOC, which had somehow been removed from memory. If you had liked, say, Pat Metheny’s rendition of Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, be assured that Gabriel’s fretwork is more rewarding to the senses. It’s perhaps the highest point of the release, but – believe me – there are no “lower” points. It’s all gorgeous.
And so, six years elapsed since that wish, I was granted the opportunity of enjoying Gabriel Borden’s brilliance again. He’s back as good as ever, capable of making me appreciate anew – in addition to his technique and, why not, heart – a compositional idiom that deserves in any case its own specific place within the history of reiterative music, regardless of the extemporaneous bitterness of a writer. Be smarter, get yourself a copy of this great CD right now and blast it. The Bordens rock.