Lebanese, Beirut-based guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui keeps expanding the intrinsic possibilities of the «unprepared» acoustic guitar solos on «Recoil/Relent» following «Concave/Convex» (Sounds From A Corridors, 2020. A third solo album is slated for the spring of 2022). The free improvising Sehnaoui is known from «A»’ Trio (with fellow-Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj and double bass player Raed Yassin) and the groove-based Middle-Eastern supergroup Karkhana. He, with Kerbaj, founded the local Irtijal festival, the oldest experimental and new music festival in the Arab world and celebrating this year its 22nd edition, and manages the Al Maslakh label, which focuses on free-improv and experimental music («publishing the un-publishable») from within the Lebanese musical scene, and the Annihaya label, which focuses on sampling, recycling and the displacement of various aspects of popular culture.
«Recoil/Relent» was conceived in April 2020 during the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns. Sehnaoui wanted to play his acoustic guitar without the use of any device or external tools, the latter has become an integral part of his playing since the late nineties. The album was recorded at Tunefork Studios in Beirut on June 2020 and February 2021 by fellow guitarist, producer and sound engineer Fadi Tabal. Kerbaj contributed the cover art.
«Recoil/Relent», like «Concave/Convex», offers two extended pieces, each one lasting 30 minutes. Both pieces stress the accumulative effects of the resonant sonorities of the acoustic guitar and its delicate overtones produced by Sehnaoui’s focused and methodical playing as well as his rich musical horizons that echo flamenco music and Far-Eastern string instruments. But «Recoil» is an urgent and intense series of dense and insistent eruptions, each one adds a distinct perspective to the resonant qualities of the guitar, while «Relent» is a quiet and minimalist meditation that repeats slowly and methodically simple motives and ornaments these motives.
Sharif Sehnaoui (unprep ac.g)