Fat Knuckle Freddy
Corruption, Deceit, Murder
Attention filmmakers who like telling stories full of introspective sequences where troubled characters stare across open plains, struck by the beauty and brutality of it all: There’s a guy in Maine who should compose your next score. Al Giusto, the prolific American Primitive guitarist and occasional blues howler who performs as Fat Knuckle Freddy, seems to have a new offering of entrancing instrumental fretwork every year, and 2020 is no exception. Corruption, Deceit, Murder is another showcase for his signature sound — rumbling bass lines anchoring intricate tenor melodies that wax and wane like a Harvest Moon, aglow with organic elegance. Much like last year’s triumph, Alfred Hitchcock Plays Guitar, the songs here are less terrifying than the title suggests. “The Dance of the Capuchin Crypt” contains his most expressive bass line yet, full of acrobatic hammer-ons that scamper like monkeys across the tree line. The lyrical wails of “Metamorphic Rock” feel like sheepdogs warning their masters. And on “Creaking Trees,” Giusto makes his strings bend like willows welcoming the breeze. He’s a one-man band who doesn’t lean on overdubs, yet he has the ability to build expanses of sound that are downright orchestral. So yeah, perhaps murder is afoot here — Fat Knuckle Freddy has slayed the misconception that one musician can only do so much.