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Pollock on the Guitar 

Myles Boisen

Wednesday, Oct 18 2000
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Unlike typical guitarists, who generally approach their instrument as a tool for strumming chords, picking solos, or making a ruckus with lots of electro-gadgets, Myles Boisen regards his primary axe -- a simply amped six-string -- as a palette of infinite possibility. By applying metallic files and other non-electric, timbre-extending devices to the strings and pickups, he coaxes cosmic color and texture out of his guitar. The fused sounds form a strangely coherent luminescence at once unsettling and engaging. Then the real fun begins.

A studio engineer for two decades whose album credits include nearly every important creative music explorer in the Bay Area, Boisen uses his recording, sampling, and digital-editing skills to recast his original performances into something else entirely. In the liner notes to his second solo collection, Scrambledisc (just released on local indie label Wiggle Biscuit Records), he explains his desire "to treat studio improvisation as a plastic, rather than a strictly documentary, medium." So, the master tape in the editing booth becomes a blank canvas onto which the artist splashes, then shapes, his total-music vision.

As both mixmaster and improv performer, Boisen comes into contact with some of the scene's more broad-minded players, including guitarist John Shiurba, ex-Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride, and drummer Gino Robair, all contributors to Scrambledisc. Since the leader's ear bends in myriad directions at once, his compositions tend to transcend even the wildest listener expectations. Rugged rhythmic fragments, haunting atmospheres, and poignant melodic moments morph into one gigantic alien organism, whose power lies in its prickly symmetry. Far from conventional, even by experimental standards, Myles Boisen reaches for the impossible.

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Sam Prestianni

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