As part of Ken’s physical therapy, he sat down at a piano for the first time in his life and learned to play. Today, Ken’s a pretty damn good barrelhouse player, despite the fact that he has a very unorthodox style and can only play in C, owing to those missing fingers. And go figure, Django Reinhardt, Tony Iommi and Jerry Garcia all overcame similar challenges by approaching their instruments differently. I have no idea if Marco Mahler has all his appendages (I may actually be a tad disappointed if he does), but he’s clearly doing the guitar thing a little differently than the majority of the singer-songwriter flock. A sculptor by trade, I will leave the “guitar as paintbrush” metaphors to Adrian Belew and simply say Mahler hears the world a little differently than you or I.
On June 29th, he will release Laptop Campfire Speed , the next step in his ongoing process of rethinking (or is that unthinking?) guitar. His 2007 debut, Design In Quick Rotation , was the work of a man with a singular, perhaps obsessive, vision, and may be the best record you’ve never heard from that year. If you’re not prepared to take my word for it, take advantage of Mahler’s generosity and join his weekly free song club, which doles out free alternate and demo versions of songs from the new record each week. I’m not sure if calling his music math-folk is accurate, but Marco Mahler is what I imagine a collaboration of Nick Drake, Fugazi and Kraftwerk on Unplugged would sound like. Rarely have such complex and contrarian melodies united with such deceptive simplicity.
Eschewing anything as pedestrian as a chord, Mahler’s guitars bubble, buzz and briefly dance at the edge of the frame before drifting off into the corners of your consciousness. Focus on any one instrument, any one riff, and you may wonder if the man has all of his faculties, but step back and the effect is often breathtaking. Add his impressionistic lyrics, rarely delivered above a whisper, and Laptop Campfire Speed is one of those rare and wonderful releases capable of cutting through the noise by hardly making a sound. Very highly recommended. - My Old Kentucky Blog (June 22 2010) Read more on Last.fm.
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