Guitarist, visual and sound poet Alan Sondheim has been making records for over 40 years, and continues to challenge both himself and his audience. ?ski/nn? is a document of solo guitar and zither songs, played on vintage instruments. Some of these include a 1927 Martin, a 19th Century ?parlor guitar?, and a couple of zithers from roughly the same period.
The songs here range from free-jazz and psych-folk, to countrified drone. Like Eugene Chadborne, Derek Bailey or Zoot Horn Rollo, these are merely labels to describe the fringes of each piece; the depth of the improvisation and absorption of various American styles defies categories. So?
While the instruments add extra colors to these 18 songs, these challenging, whimsical songs would still be powerful and evocative on contemporary shitty guitars bought at K-Mart.
?Take one?, ?Death Three?, ?1969", ?1898", ?Dervish Two?, and ?Take Nine? are personal highlights, and as you can see, the record explores recurring themes and phrases, as if to emphasize their eternal pull. Sondheim, like the best artists, only cares about the next note, but here, he finds the new by building off the past. His choice of instruments play a part by having held on until someone noticed them and decided to jam on them again. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (11 December, 2006)