Using the guitar as one would a snake-charmer, Filipe Felizardo explores echo and reverb, with sustained notes and a lingering, open space that gives the minimalism of the song structures a warm, deep feel. The eight solo guitar tracks on “Guitar Soli for the Moa and the Frog” draw from American Primitive and the blues, but also from some of the more abstract work of Nels Cline and Bill Orcutt.
The centerpiece of the record is the four-part “A Conference of Stones and Things Previous,” of which the final two movements are the most compelling. “Of Obsidian, Doubly Refracting” is a masterpiece of restraint and emotional power, a hoodoo mix of blues and drone that is chilling. The final section, “De Vi Centrifiga,” features harsh, intermittently placed notes that brush up against the atonal but never cross over.
The ringing of “II” has an arid, side-winding melody, with warmer tones mixed in. This is Joe Pass meets Ry Cooder. “Of the Excrement and the Frog” is the only acoustic song, and its confident, powerful chording remains grounded in the blues but
The set ends with the warped, almost ambient “The Dreidl upon the Nose of the Sphynx,” a hermetic piece that is kind of jarring given the warmth of most of the other songs. Still, it chills in many ways, including with its contemplative grace. That is a good overall way to characterize “Guitar Soli for the Moa and the Frog.” Filipe Felizardo is certainly a student of the recent history of solo guitar. But he is also a master of restraint and tension. His compositions, which draw from his ear for space, silence and echo, draw from the genres and sonic experiments that have come before him, but become strangely, beautifully his own.