Another unexpected musical surprise, in a year that has been plentiful of them. This album is the work of an Australian musician named Andrew Tuttle, who combines acoustic guitar playing with digital processing and electronics. That description alone may not sound incredibly unique to some of you, but what he does on this album is certainly in a league of its own. First off, the guitar playing here is absolutely stunning; he’s obviously an incredibly accomplished guitar player, channeling all of the American Primitive heroes, particularly on opener “Federation” and closer “Exitarchy”. Although, the liner notes credit Cornel Wilczek with acoustic guitar as well, so he is to thank for some of the guitar goodness as well. As far as the electronics, there are plenty of things happening; tremolo-heavy synth and organ washes, as on “Federation”. Vintage analogue drum machine pulse, as on “Demarchy”. Laptop fizzing and mutating the guitar tones on “Minarchism”. Glitch detailing and enhancing (not obscuring or abstracting) the guitar playing in “Meritocracy”. And “Plutocracy” is a 9-minute minimalist phasing odyssey. “Plutarchy” is probably the oddest track here, burying any acoustic sounds under sludge and pounding the life out of them.
Even when altered by effects, there is a clear contrast between the acoustic guitar and the electronics. The guitars are melodic and musical. Yet they fit so naturally with the electronics, which are heavily detailed without being glitch overload. This is just an incredibly lovely album, and certainly challenges the possibilities of how modern electronics and acoustic instruments can be combined, while steering far clear of any “folktronica” cliches.