Keith Rowe and Fred Frith are perpetual
reference points for The Wire – two
figures who turned the electric guitar on its head (or more
accurately on its back). While such techniques aren't exactly
mainstream these days – the only tabletop or laptop
guitarists from the hit parade who spring to mind are either
Nashville Country types or Canadian blues guitarist Jeff Healey –
the history of these anti-technique techniques does hang heavy over
newer practioners. I imagine those who take a tangential approach
to the instrument days get heartily sick of being constantly
compared to Rowe and Frith – and rightly so. The tabletop
guitar approach can, sometimes, be in danger of being fetished as
much as the loose-strapped guitar-slinging style.
Weirdly refreshing, then, to watch the video vignettes sent to me by American guitarist Morgan Craft. Because of the visuals you can't see what he's doing with the guitar, and it leaves your mind free to wander without the shadow of previous technicians hanging over it. Apparently, it's done live with no overdubs, and is genuinely otherworldly at times. For all I know, he's doing the whole lot with his foot on the monitor through a Marshall Stack, but I kind of doubt it.