Nothing in the the career of Danish jazz guitarist Mikkel Ploug led to the recording of «Alleviation», a solo acoustic guitar album. Ploug never considered himself as an acoustic guitar player and used the acoustic guitar for sonic effects only. But not every day a guitarist comes across a rare acoustic guitar, a well-worn, mahogany-top Gibson Banner LG-2, part of a series of guitars that were made during WWII primarily by women. Ploug found this guitar last year in New York while he was touring the United states, took it with him to Copenhagen, spent the next four months mastering its intriguing, warm and ringing sound every day. Then he recorded «Alleviation» in a warm wooden room.
Ploug main ex is the electric, Gibson ES-330 hollow body, known from his recordings with the avant-chamber jazz trio Equilibrium, or with his own trio or various collaborations as with Irish Singer-Songwriter Rebecca Collins in The Unusual History of Ether and american sax player Mark Turner. The new guitar challenged Ploug’s process of composing. He experimented with pieces that have fewer notes, finger-picking techniques and open strings and often with very simple chords.
The new, concise 13 compositions highlight Ploug rich vocabulary. Most of these compositions may be associated with the folk universes of British guitarists as Bert Jansch or john Renbourn. Compositions like «Night Space», «With Open Arms» and «Einer» are beautiful folk songs that are based on a strong, melodic themes. «Luminous» deepens this emotional vein with a tribute to the american guitarist Ben Monder. The use of finger-picking on «Florescence’», «Arabesque» and «Alleviation» explores the resonant, vibrant strings of the vintage guitar as if it was some kind of a piano. «Circle Wind» adopts a Steve Reich-like minimalist, repetitive motifs and «Couleurs d’Olivier» is based on Olivier Messiaen compositional ideas.
Beautiful and impressive.
Mikkel Ploug (acoustic guitar)