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Erik Sootes: Nerves

The classical guitar album "Nerves" opens with a Spanish-influenced intro featuring a plaintive, simple melody over ostinato layering reminiscent of the Pink Floyd soundtrack "More." Moving on to a blues progression in the next track, we hear a well-played solo, which makes use of flamenco-style tremolo, and by the fifth track we are treated to an anxiety-riven ambient piece which lends it's name to the title. Though this and all other music is played on the same single guitar, it manages to create a sound more reminiscent of a techno sampling of an old Moog synthesizer than the Ovation Celebrity Deluxe, weaving together a myriad number of tracks into a seamless orchestra, albeit a spooky one.

Yes, Erik Sootes is a competent guitar player, but he also has quite an ear for recording, and throughout this self-written, self-played, self-recorded CD we hear a singular mood which is at once comfortably familiar, and alien; like the moon's frozen surface.

The pieces are short enough to hold the listener rapt, and are without the self-important pomp that often accompanies solo CDs. Here one finds pieces that create an emotional mood moving enough to fill strange spaces with warmth, while expounding on ancient and recent musical ideas with the knowledge of a studied artisan. All this is punctuated by the surreal "Nerves" theme, upon which Sootes experiments successfully, rising and falling in volume and excitement, each visitation adding more to the haunting minimalism.

This is a classical guitar CD for rock, techno and progressive rock fans, and one that will stay in my CD collection. At last, an intelligent CD which is fun to listen to.

Serena Vale