Fat Knuckle Freddy
It’s occurred to me that one of these days we may decide not to review a release by the hyper-prolific six-string spellcaster Al Giusto (a.k.a. Fat Knuckle Freddy). But he just keeps discovering new ways to enchant us, whether it’s with raw blues workouts, American Primitive acoustic compositions, ethereal Western soundtracks or his latest offering, on which he serves as a kind of ambient drug-trip tour guide. Only four months after the release of the moody and magical instrumental guitar album Corruption, Deceit, Murder, Giusto is back with Diabolus Ambientium, a three-track, 40-minute experiment in effects-laden world-building that would appeal to fans early, post-Syd Pink Floyd or the drone-metal shamans Sunn O))). The 16-minute title track has nothing resembling a verse-chorus structure, yet it mesmerizes on atmosphere alone, its synthetic notes rising and falling gently, like giant birds with theremin voices. Very few notes on this recording sound like they were played on a guitar, but they all were. “A fretless, sustainer guitar is played with various effects to create these ambient soundscapes,” Giusto explained in the liner notes, going on to humble-brag that “there are no overdubs employed in this recording.” So yeah, this unsettlingly gorgeous achievement in electronic music, which sounds like a transmission from an evolved alien world, was achieved by one guy with a guitar performing live in a studio. What’s next, Al? Opera?