Cam Deas, "Quadtych"
Available as two vinyl LPs or as this one CD these four solo guitar pieces range in length from around 16 to 20 minutes. On his favored Breedlove 12 string, Cam Deas plays guitar like ringing a (Tibetan) bell and with an intimate intensity that is by turns wild, meditative, melodic and transporting. Within an extended structure he rubs and thrashes the strings into an extraordinary, calm, deliberate, fluttering frenzy.
Quadtych was recorded last December at London‚Äôs Roundhouse but Deas had been working on several sections for months. This, and his knowledge of the history of guitar improvisation, gives the music its own definite sense of geography and time. This structure allows it to avoid sounding messy or self-indulgent. Instead, Deas conjures sounds which seem familiar and deliberate (in pace and in the sense that he knows exactly what he doing).
Cam Deas‚Äô style and technique allows for his intellect and emotion to be fully expressed. He hammers and pulls strings, scrapes them like he‚Äôs polishing a magic lamp, tweaks behind the nut, allows some notes to resound slowly into silence and pulverizes others with cascading repetition. Its a very tactile experience. Indeed, after listening to the agonizingly protracted rubbing on "Part One," it was touch and go whether I'd make it through this review without using the word "clitoris."
It is pleasing to hear him use a rolling intensity reminiscent of the sheer bombastic volume of Leadbelly and to spot Eastern-influenced textures which echo Robbie Basho. Deas' work may have traces of Bailey's spluttering abstraction and a very faint whiff of Fahey's more embroidered approach but he seems genuinely to be an artist on a journey deep into unique territory. It is a landscape both spacious and densely tangled; maybe similar to the depiction of a forest glade on the relaxing blue-on-blue cover artwork by Jake Blanchard. These sounds conjured in me personal feelings and wider notions of folk memory, the mythology of the forest, ancient beliefs, the survival of superstition, and the comforting inevitability in seasonal repetition.
Initially, I felt a little disappointed that the four pieces on Quadtych have no titles beyond being numbered. But this allows for anyone to enjoy their range and variation in a pure sense and to interpret them according to personal response. Thus, I named the four: "There is no coincidence," "Reflexes/Chinese Blouse," "Floresta da Tijuca," and "Time Rides In A Horse." Perhaps I‚Äôm barking up the wrong tree but feel safe to predict that no-one who gets through this album will be calling any of the tracks "Bloke Fiddling About With Wood (And Wires)."