HAINER WÖRMANN

Lower Rhine Sonata
Nurnichtnur LC 05245

Add a new — for North Americans — name to the list of the guitar experimenters who seem to be proliferating in the Rhineland. Like his confreres Hans Tammen and Erhard Hirt, with whom he has also recorded, 51-year-old Hainer Wörmann appears to use the solid body and archtop models on this memorable session more as sound sources than instruments.

The Bremen, Germany-based guitarist has been an improv activist since the mid-1980s, playing with locals like the BIG Bremen Improvisation Group, such outsiders as trumpeter Rajesh Mehta, guitarist Keith Rowe and saxophonist John Butcher, plus creating music for experimental films and art installations.

Working on his own, with no overdubs, the preparations allow Wörmann to create a cinematic expanse during the course of these 11 tracks. Using no electronics, an E-bow, an equalizer and his six strings, he’s able to originate sounds far beyond the imagination — or perhaps what figures in the nightmares — of those adolescent readers of guitar gear magazines.

On the multi-part/four track title tune, for instance, he treats his instrument like a brain surgeon operating through microsurgery on diseased synapses. He delicately manipulates some strings, vibrates a few, reverberates a third set and rubs others, but is always careful to work within those delineated microscopic parameters.

Elsewhere he’s able to produce sounds that appear to range from feeding time in the barnyard and the burrowing of mechanized rodents to what could be a flock of predatory birds flying through mechanized static or how you would hear a band saw cutting through thick bones. He may use feedback, but like one of Wilson Pickett’s or James Brown’s screams, it’s high-pitched data with many tones and notes.

Additionally, lyrical also isn’t the first word you’d associate with a session like this. But Wörmann doesn’t knock you over with atonality either. “CORCSTONE”, for instance is an almost-melodic ditty that takes full advantage of the reverberations that can result from manipulating the guitar’s woody, solid body. Meanwhile, he delicately manipulates the whir of the amplified sound to such an extent on “EBOWCROW” that you’d swear you were hearing a saxophone.

Collectors who now pony up big bucks to buy famous guitars on which celebrated plectrumists created their best-known work may be out of luck in the future. In improvised music, at least, it’s the treatments — not to mention the guitarists’ skill and ideas — that do the real job.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: LOWER RHINE SONATA 1. Part 1 PA 2. Part 2 TREEPIECES 3 Part 3 TIC 4. Part 4 HO 5. EBOWCROW 6. BRUSHES 7. STYRO 2 8. PIBROCH 9. YELLOW 10. CORCSTONE 11. ECHINACEA

Personnel: Hainer Wörmann (guitars with preparations including an E-bow, distortion pedals and equalizer)