Still refusing to limit himself to Western music's twelve-tone scale, string-bender Neil Haverstick further explores unconventional tuning systems with a fresh batch of instrumental compositions for custom-built 19- and 34-tone guitars. Accompanied by longtime collaborator Ernie Crews on drums and percussion, Haverstick keeps his fifth release playful and unpredictable, referencing everything from turbocharged Texas swing ("Breakfast Squids") to doom rock ("Ozzy") to soothing, deep-space nebula ("Far Away"). Displaying an obvious affection for Middle Eastern riffs, urban blues, bebop and jazz-fusion wizard John McLaughlin, Haverstick champions left-of-the-dial aesthetics with endless curiosity and radical originality. As an electric companion piece to 1997's unplugged Acoustic Stick, this defiantly un-commercial exercise in chops succeeds on many levels: Haverstick not only creates an otherworldly microtonal universe, but he manages to broaden the shrinking vocabulary of the all-American instrument beyond three-chord baby talk. Yummy, yummy, yummy.
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