Trevor Babb’s debut solo recording, Warmth, is a collection of kaleidoscopic compositions for multiple electric guitars that synthesizes new classical compositional rigor with the rhythms, timbres, and energy of popular genres with which the electric guitar is so intimately associated. With three compositions by household names in minimalist and experimental music and three others by younger, emerging compositional voices - including Babb himself - Warmth demonstrates the expressive versatility of the electric guitar through a plethora of traditional and experimental playing techniques in the context of meticulous compositional craft for ensembles of two to fifteen instruments.
Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint was the starting point for the recording as it is one of the most well known pieces for multiple electric guitars. While the piece has been recorded by guitarists many times over, Babb’s performance of Reich’s work is beautifully orchestrated with special attention to the blending of different sonic colors of several different guitars. The second work on the recording, Paul Kerekes’ trail, is something of an homage to Reich’s work. Commissioned especially for this recording project, Kerekes’ textures of cross-fading harmonies and singing solo melodies create a similar atmosphere to Reich’s with a completely different musical language. The title track by Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang is an off-kilter polyrhythmic duel between two guitars while James Tenney’s Septet is a love letter to the natural acoustic intervals that the modern tuning system has all but erased from our musical experience. The last two tracks on the album are the most experimental in nature including Babb’s own Grimace, a visceral study of dissonance, and Carl Testa’s slope 2, an investigation of the barriers between musical sound and noise through improvisation and extended techniques within a composed structure.
The music on this recording is simultaneously meditative and ecstatic and Babb’s close attention to sound color and innovative approaches to guitar playing make this record a musical thrill that constantly challenges our expectations of an electric guitar’s musical capabilities.
Trevor Babb is a guitarist and composer based in New Haven, CT specializing in contemporary music performance. He has performed throughout the United States and internationally as a soloist and chamber musician and is especially interested in modern compositions for electric guitar.
"...this new recording has to be counted as success and an interesting addition to the recorded canon of a minimal masterpiece." (Music Web International)
"A CD recommended especially to those who, like me, love exploring the boundaries between the territories, very close to the present, the contemporary and the extra-cultured music." (Kathodic)
"Babb produces a great debut here and makes a strong case for the genre of electric guitar with supporting electronics as being a viable format for a live concert. He also seems to be defining that genre much the way that many solo artists are doing these days. He seems to be constructing a repertoire establishing the classics (Reich, Tenney) and promoting the viability of works that he feels deserve a place in that repertoire." (New Music Buff)
"...the virtue of having a really vibrant version of the Reich alongside other multiple guitar pieces illuminates those works and gives the Reich another context...something people who ordinarily do not associate with electric guitar sounds, or not modern classical applications of it, will find stimulating and worthwhile." (Gapplegate Classical-Modern Review)