Listen to Jon Durant's latest album, Brief Light (Alchemy ALCD 1019; 46:28), and you might think its collection of richly textured soundscapes was created by means of artful layering of keyboards. Then you realize that the dominant instrument here is actually guitar. This is guitar as paintbrush; by employing a unique arsenal of instruments, including electric guitar, cloud guitar and filter guitar, over loops and repetitive rhythms, Durant has crafted a series of impressionistic aural paintings. Several highly regarded collaborators, including bass and stick master Tony Levin, percussionist Vinny Sabatino, pianist Michael Whalen and renowned guitar-synthesizer player Randy Roos are on board to provide further coloration to the sonic palette.
On "River," gongs ring out over layers of tribal percussion with Durant's wailing guitar soaring over it all, while on the majestic "Rosemary" Whalen's piano complements Durant's delicate synthetic mallet work. The album's centerpiece, the nearly 10-minute-long "Behind Stone Walls," features a hypnotic, mesmerizing filtered-guitar rhythm with Levin's stick prowling beneath the surface and Durant's guitar building in intensity on top. On the closer "Friday (Later)," Durant and Roos create a series of gracefully shifting, atmospheric passages that gradually fade away into nothingness.
Brief Light is an exquisite, continually fascinating album by an artist who is expert at shaping sound in evocative and multidimensional ways. It is well worth experiencing.