On her sixth album, guitar-thwacking virtuoso Kaki King loops back to basics with her first all-instrumental release since Everybody Loves You, her 2002 debut. As an artistic reboot, Glow confidently recapitulates a decade of development. King augments her basic technical vocabulary – rapid-fire fanning, fingerpicking, fretboard tapping, harmonics scattering, and idiosyncratic tunings – with fresh ideas from classical and international musics, while still honing to her essential sound. “Streetlight in the Egg” and “No True Masterpiece Will Ever Be Complete” augment tastefully dazzling fretwork with subtle electronics and no-frills percussion – so, yes, it sometimes smacks of Windham Hill for the young and caffeinated. Helping King beyond her comfort zone, string quartet Ethel pours classical gas on the glowing embers of “Great Round Burn” and the dark, dense “Fire Eater,” while King solo invokes Tchaikovsky with lap steel on the spaghetti Eastern “Marche Slav.” Traveling elsewhere, she breaks land speed records on the Celtic-flavored “King Pizel” and lends a Chinese tinge to British Columbia’s “Bowen Island.” Glow captures an artist in anything but still life.
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By Judnick Mayard on 09.13.14 in Features
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