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Jeff Fuccillo - Disturbed Strings

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Artist: Jeff Fuccillo

Album: Disturbed Strings

Label: Roaratorio

Review date: Sep. 7, 2004

A little background info is needed before one can properly digest guitarist Jeff Fuccillo’s debut LP for Minneapolis’ Roaratorio label. In 1998, Fuccillo opened a gig for avant-folk legend John Fahey in Portland, Oregon. The Bearded One was impressed with Fuccillo’s particular brand of plucking and scheduled time for him to record for Fahey’s Revenant label. Fuccillo arrived at their studio session, prepared to make a solo guitar album, and found Fahey armed with a pile of samples – snippets of jazz recordings, wild flurries of fuzz and screeches of noise. As Fuccillo played, Fahey shot various sounds through the studio monitors, creating a sort of improv collaboration between Fahey’s mad scientist control room fuckery and Fuccillo’s guitar work.

As is, Disturbed Strings is an apt title for this LP. Fuccillo is almost violent in the way he batters, twists and stretches his strings, shooting off non-linear squalls of notes. Over both sides of the vinyl, he creaks and clatters his way through some often fascinating and stylistically dizzying passages. Like the more forward-thinking contemporary guitar manipulators such as Steffen Basho-Junghans, Fuccillo creates challenging compositions that steer clear of structure, exploring instead the outer realms of what one dude can do with a guitar.

The real disappointment here is Fahey, who sounds more like sonic saboteur than artfully minded collaborator. Rarely do his effects seem like more than cruel attempts to throw Fuccillo off-track. Whatever his intention, Fahey’s additions are either too tame or too infrequent to add much to the record. Apparently he agreed, later admitting a deep disdain for the recordings, deeming them “too nice.”

The main selling point of this LP is undoubtedly Fahey’s contribution – the sleeve even includes prints of his artwork – yet one must ignore his obtuse and irritating pranks in order to find the true splendor of this record. It’s sad in a way that the two never got a chance to record a legitimate LP, because once past the legend and lore, Fuccillo’s work on Disturbed Strings flickers with the kind of individuality that Fahey was so good at fostering in his young accomplices.

By Ethan Covey

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