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November 2002

Steve Tibbetts
A Man About a Horse
ECM Records

Students of sonic painting will find lots of mesmerizing layers to peel on Steve Tibbetts' A Man About a Horse (ECM), a densely packed atmospheric ride with world-beat tribal percussion at its core. This sonic suite often depicts the clash of the organic and industrial, mythological and modern, as world-beat rhythms rumble and rush beneath splashes of synth and searing, sometimes inside-out guitar work. Tibbetts builds atmosphere and mood rather than melody, from the ephemeral guitar doodles and splashed chords rising across the tribal beats of "Lupra" to the mysterious chiming of "Black Temple," a peace that is ultimately disturbed by creeping, shredding guitar. Where "Burning Temple" threads effects like gushes of wind through desolate halls, "Lochana" builds on distant drum work with thunderclaps and Hendrixlike bolts of electric guitar. Ideas and motives peak out and wind through these dense paintings, creating a mystical feel on "Chandoha," with its flicking flames of guitar, and a seafaring wonder on "Koshala," with Indian-fringed, fluttering guitar work hinting through the tension between the tight rhythm and laconic bass. Those expecting traditional song structure may be baffled, but listeners in search of creative sonics should find hours of "How did he do that?" dissection fun.

Originally published in November 2002
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