Band Website: www.cgtrio.com
Label: Inner Knot Records
Label Website: www.innerknotrecords.com
Release Date: 2010
Being together for 20 years is quite an accomplishment and to commemorate that event the California Guitar Trio decided to release their eighth studio recording entitled Andromeda. It also marks the first time they’ve released a CD with exclusively original material. These three guitar players decided to come together as a unit following experience touring with Robert Fripp’s League of Crafty Guitarists. The trio consists of Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya all guitarists extraordinaire. On the CD there are a few tracks where they have the assistance of Eric Slick (drums), Tony Levin (Chapman Stick), Dilek Englin (viola), Daniel Shiu (Marimba), Tyler Trotter (Moog effects) and Kevin Ratterman (Moog effects). But while these extra players provide some valuable musical assistance, most of the material here is the trio on guitars all by themselves.
Andromeda is made up of 11 tracks and features, and is for the most part, intricate guitar playing, where each player provides his own musical thread that is linked to the performance of the other two. It makes for some pleasantly complex moments. There are also three tracks here entitled “Improv” where the music is essentially created on the studio floor. The longest piece is the title track “Andromeda” [6:02] and it’s one that features a couple of the extra players on synths. The track starts with, layers of picking guitars creating as you might expect given the title, a kind of spacey introduction until each player begins to take a turn in the spotlight. Guitars are strummed and picked creating sonic waves of sounds which are embellished with the Moog sound effects giving the piece a very ethereal sound that wafts too and fro. The first track on the CD “Cathedral Peak” [4:21], one of the few to feature bass and drums gets things off in a dramatic fashion and reminds me a lot of the music of Gordon Giltrap at his symphonic best. The same might be said for the track “Portland Rain” [4:33] which has the same added players plus the viola.
The California Guitar Trio are one of those groups that begs the question…Are they really a prog band? And it’s a legitimate question, although I don’t think the answer is that simple. Clearly their musical credentials speak well towards their inclusion, and their performance is first rate. In addition their compositions are complex without being overly showy or even long. And while there isn’t any kind of musical fireworks, the overall musical tone is an accomplished one. My guess is their fan base will thoroughly enjoy Andromeda and for prog fans, well there is no denying the enjoyment that comes from listening to such well crafted music performed to well.