There is a school thought which argues that Television's 1997 masterpiece "Marquee Moon" has never been bettered. It was a record where dual guitar interplay hit heights hereto not scaled since "Live at Filmore East" and where the songs were so good that if they were a rugby team they would be wearing an All Blacks jersey. Huge appreciation therefore can go out to Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band on "Intensity ghost" for not only reminding the listener of the Verlaine/Lloyd partnership but on occasions aspiring to the some of that lofty ambition.
"Intensity Ghost" is a pure guitar album of five long songs and on the surface sounds like a unmitigated instrumental bore fest. Chris Forsyth however is a massive new "axe" talent. He hails from Philadelphia and like his city counterpart Adam Granduciel and the wider virtuoso work of Steve Gunn, he puts old wine in new bottles but makes the brew completely fresh and intoxicating. Listen to the brilliant 11 minute opener "The Ballad of Freer Hollow" where Garcia meets Verlaine and a dash of Robbie Kreiger is thrown in for good measure. The track soars from a simple motif to exploratory guitar jamming of the highest order that is completely locked down in terms of melodic discipline. In addition Forsyth's incendiary concluding solo is a thing of economical wonder no doubt driven by the competition provided by his worthy partner in crime Paul Sukeena who is a sort of modern day Richard Betts to his Duane Alllman. Throughout the songs never drag and the twin guitars keep you pinned to the speakers wondering what is going to happen next. "Yellow Square" is a slower outing set around a strutting base over which the two guitarist weave huge power chords. "I ain't waiting" alternatively is a real beauty and again the Television comparison is unmistakable particularly through the use of soaring step chords changes from around 2.20 minutes. It is one of the best pieces of sustained guitar work this reviewer has heard in years. The title track is the nearest thing on the album to a conventional rock song but even here the complex patterns of play are deceptive and reveal their talents slowly not least as the song breaks off in a slower and more intriguing direction around the 3 minutes mark. Finally "Paris Song" starts with a meditative tone that slowly builds with cascading scales. It is tightly controlled throughout and echoes some of the patterns that the Doors used in their epic "The End".
If you adore the great twin guitar bands of yore but desire them spruced up all clean and fresh for the age of Twitter this album by Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band will bring joy to the tail end of 2014. All in all unadulterated guitar heaven.
Review by Red on Black