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Three Uses of Guitar: Ernest Gonzales, Joy Wants Eternity, Justin Roberts

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As everyone knows, there's an awful lot that can be done with a guitar. The instrument has a home in nearly every genre of music. Here are a few divergent applications that rely heavily on everyone's favorite stringed instrument.

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ERNEST GONZALES: While on Saturn's Rings (CD on Exponential Records)

This release from 2007 offers 40 minutes of lively electro-pop.

Surging electronics and peppy e-perc dominate this basically mexicali flavored techno rock, providing an engaging contrast for the guitarwork that seems to bully its way into each tune.

The electronics alternate between hoarse and crystalline. Surges cascade, while layered tones collide. Bells twinkle and sounds loop back on themselves.

The percussion serves up complex doses of rattling rhythms and agitated locomotion. A touch of ilbient glitches contribute eccentric tempos. There are even passages of more conventional drumming.

It's the guitar that elevates this music, transforming quirky compositions into quirkier songs with jubilant disposition. Whether strumming madly or wailing like wounded dinosaurs or twanging with prairie appeal, the guitars generate a delightful personality that is reminiscent of a rave being invaded by roadhouse performers.

The compositions are amiable, even jovial. Clever beats and sinuous electronics achieve a bouncy allure that is tastily embellished by the guitar riffs.

The CD features a sample-infected remix by producer Daedelus (Ninja Tune, Plug Research, Mush) of the title track.

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JOY WANTS ETERNITY: You Who Pretend to Sleep (CD on Beep Repaired Records)

This release from 2007 offers 38 minutes of instrumental power rock.

Joy Wants Eternity is: Salvador Huerta, Emory Liu, Daniel Salo, Michael Sterling, and Rob Thompson.

Grinding guitars crunch in a celestial manner, establishing a savage intensity that frequently betrays a peek of heaven. Confused? Don't be. This music achieves a euphoric state through the application of melodic brutality. Guitars blaze with molten fury, expressing chords of searing disposition. The result is so mesmerizing that it's breathlessly hypnotic. And exhausting too.

Deafeningly passionate percussion rumbles beneath the layered guitars, providing a suitable locomotion for the grinding tuneage. At other times, the drumming adopts a lazy attitude as it belts out soothing rhythms that gradually amass vitality.

A bevy of electronics and effects seethe amid the mix, further cementing the music into a wall of sound that even a neutrino would be hard pressed to penetrate.

Ah, but this music is not all brutal and ferocious. There are frequent softer touches that exhibit alluring skill as dreamy passages are crafted, serving as bridges from one pinnacle of intensity to the next.

The guitars, however, retain a sense of power that refuses to be suppressed. While displaying restraint, the layered guitar riffs bristle with vigor and soar with majesty.

The music possesses a remarkable density that can be exhilarating. The compositions capitalize on this harnessed might, channeling ecstasy into a harsh milieu that shines with the final glory.

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JUSTIN ROBERT: Manasota (CD on Lunar Flower Records)

This release from 2007 offers 58 minutes of gritty ambience.

Soothing tones wavering behind pacific harmonics prepare the listener for a plunge into a grittier ambience. The mood and timbre becomes harsher as guitar effects take over. A growling drone provides a backdrop for twinkling guitar notes amid a pool of gurgling diodes. Faint percussives resound softly as if echoing within a metal cargo hold.

While well hidden, the guitar is the main instrument here, albeit subjected to an abundance of treatments and reprocessing, resulting in a plethora of unearthly tonal effects. Expansive tonalities are created, then twisted sideways to provide cover for more conventional guitar chords. Metal scrapings and breathless sustains abound. Feigned cellos and sawing strings lend a classical edge to the industrial noise.

Often, the guitar-generated drones ascend to near-painful intensity, utilizing volume to approximate approach and departure. A compression of aggressive sounds achieves a celestial disposition that opens the sky.

For the 16 minute finale, Robert employs actual guitar chords of a melodic nature, counterpointing each other as the different layers interact and evolve.

Although there are melodic hints, this music is generally harmonic, relying on dense layers to establish a soundscape designed to pry open the listener's head with a relentless grind of guitar distortions. Notably, however, this music is devoid of any hostility, pursuing a blissful euphoria reached through teeth-grinding passages of musique concrete.

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