Tuesday 27 November 2012

CD review - Klassika

Richard Chapman is a classically trained guitarist who has decided to stretch the envelope and has released an EP (on digital download) of his own music, pop-folk in feel, but still with a challenging guitar part. If you have ever been dissatisfied with the finger-work and with the eternal strumming on popular guitar-led music, then this is for you.

I have to confess that I have always had a weakness for good, acoustically inspired guitar work in popular music, Hotel California on the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over Album, with it myriad of multiple guitars remains one of my all time favourites (which is odd in someone whose main exposure to popular music was dancing to the Weather Girls in the 1980's and backing Bronski Beat's first album).

Chapman has a fine pedigree as a guitarist, he trained with Gilbert Biberian at Trinity College of Music and with Carlos Bonnell, going on to play with musicians such as Julius Drake and the Gould Piano Trio.

This EP mixes his classical technique with other elements: multi-tracking, electronic beats, percussion, sythn strings. Rachel James did the mixes and was overall music producer.

Prelude starts robustly, but has nice detailing.  This is a feature of all the tracks, the fine finger-work which underlies the popular rhythmic feel and textures. Sea Chanty starts with sounds of the sea, then a lovely rich texture of multiple guitars plays over a heavy rhythmic beat. Celtic Warrior starts a heavy rock beat, but over lays this with guitar textures similar to the previous number. Chapman's basic outline is the sort of arpeggio figure familiar from Spanish guitar music, but here as elsewhere he displays nifty finger-work and it is rather piquant hearing such playing in so different a circumstance.

Freight Grain is the first track that he wrote, at the suggestion of his wife when he became frustrated with standard classical repertoire. It opens with an evocative Spanish-style guitar riff, then a lovely guitar melody plays over a slow rhythm evoking the freight train. As speed picks up, so do Chapman's fingers.

The album is described as Sensual Guitar Chillout , and the tracks have a certain chill-out background feel. But there is also a rather cinematic feel to them. I would quite like to hear what would happen if Chapman worked with a vocalist.

Sensual Guitar Chillout 
Prelude [4.27]
Celtic Warrior [5.15]
Sea Shanty [3.21]
Freight Train [6.43]
Released 14 August 2012

The album is available for download from ITunes.

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