Part of the intention behind IV: American Electric Guitars – which gathers pieces by four US composers – is to examine how the guitar is utilised as a classical “concert” instrument. It leads me to consider how I may perceive the guitar differently within a classical context. Perhaps the detachment of composer and performer is key. The guitar no longer an extension of the composer’s limbs, channelling body habit and emotional reflex; the resultant sound becomes the primary concern, with performer technique placed under the external command of someone who has no physical contact with the instrument.
Maybe that’s why some of the movements on IV: American Electric Guitars sound somewhat uncomfortable. I am accustomed to hearing notes tumbling directly out of the performer’s arms and hands, as fluid as subconscious body gestures. On Christian Wolff’s “Another Possibility”, Fiore flits between chords that roll forward like marbles and jagged, pond-skater chicanes and sudden choked notes – a comprehensive and unpredictable catalogue of technique and polarised dynamics, holding the performer in a constant state of high alert. Similarly, the harmonies on Anthony Porter’s “Hair Of The Thing That Bit You” sound like two bits of dry spaghetti dropped to the floor, the interrelation of notes determined by the angle at which chance would have them fall, regardless of how cramped the resultant fretting hand shape will be.
Yet the guitar doesn’t fall under an absolute laboratory dissection, and the more traditional player-guitar relationship still emerges in flashes and translucent outlines. The closing stages of Porter’s aforementioned piece slip into a pirouetting jaunt reminiscent of emo outfit American Football, while Eve Beglarian’s “Until It Blazes” uses delay to turn plucked notes into delicate little skimming stones, with each new note stepping into the ripple of the one before. All the while, Fiore’s performance holds an impeccable balance between warmth and technical discipline, letting tiny traces of his identity twist into the fabric of composer intention.