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Suzuki Junzo - Pieces for Hidden Circles [Utech - 2008]

Suzuki Junzo is a guitarist and vocalist known for his involvement in the Overhang Party, Miminokoto, Astral Travelling Unity, 20 Guilders, aside from his solo work and a couple of collaborative efforts.  Pieces for Hidden Circles is volume 8 of Utech Records' "Arc" series, a consistently high quality line of recordings, most of which are guitar oriented. Each of these releases are appointed with classy and beautifully printed photographs by Max Aguillera-Hellweg, and the concept of the series is for each artist to tie the music to the photography. The fact that there is a distinctive personality to each volume is what makes this series so intriguing and artistically complex.

Pieces for Hidden Circles conisists of solo guitar, improvised on a Gibson ES335. Suzuki is restless in respect to the direction of each piece, yet patient enough to let each idea pan out. The playing is for the most part sparse and unadorned with effects, other than reverb. The style of playing doesn't fit any particular mold, which is a good thing. There's a good deal of finger-picking, a style often associated with country, bluegrass or folk music. Here, it's done with open tunings, and mixed with rough strumming.

There's undoubtedly a hint of psych within much of the album, and with the help of Suzuki's preference for treble, it's of the spiky and nervous variety. The album's greatest detour and longest track, is Hats Off to A.M., a 17 minute drone piece adorned with quiet guitar notes. It's difficult to tell how the drone was created, but it is assumed that it was done on the ES335, since that's the only instrument credited on the sleeve. It's an impressionistic, peaceful, calming, perhaps even hopeful piece of music which somehow manages to pull all of the disparate explorations, before and after it, together. As a whole, Pieces for Hidden Circles is deceptively simple on the surface, yet the big picture reveals a nuanced, fine piece of art.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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