Alex De Grassi - The Water Garden

The Water Garden

Alex De Grassi

(TRD1001)

Tropo Records
P.O. Box 772
Redwood Valley, CA 95470

A review written for the Folk and Music Exchange
by Paula Gregorowicz
(paulag@enter.net).

The Water Garden, the latest offering from masterful guitarist Alex De Grassi is a collection of solo guitar pieces on the theme of water. Inspired by the El Niņo rains, these selections offer a glimpse into the many faces of water and its mystical effects on the soul. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this recording is the fact that it consists solely of De Grassi and his guitar -- no supporting guitars, no overdubs, just 1 man and 10 fingers. It is simply awe inspiring when you consider the consistent flow of counterpoint and sustained bass and harmonic lines on many of these pieces.

The CD liner notes photography is fabulous and the artwork reminds me very much of a photorealistic depiction of a scene akin to Monet's Water Lilies. De Grassi includes the very appropriate quote from Herman Melville "Meditation and water are wedded forever".

The CD begins briskly with the Prelude which feels of swiftly flowing water and has a sense of urgency, that of water moving toward a destination. My favorite selection, the title track is a slow, peaceful piece with exquisite harmonies and counterpoint throughout. For some reason, it reminded me of the feel of some of the selections on the late Michael Hedges' CD Oracle.

Another Shore evokes in me a hopeful feeling of passing along to a new situation or life. For no real musical reason I can fathom, it gives me a similar emotional response as the David Wilcox song The Distant Shore. Cumulus Rising features a number of percussive sections and is very dissonant, light and airy. I didn't particularly like the ponticello section, though as it seemed to break the mood of the song for me.

Ripple comes in a very close second in terms of being my favorite piece. In it, DeGrassi maintains a beautiful melody on top of which he plays a theme. Images of continually rippling water are evoked and can be interpreted to represent the interweaving of different people's lives. The CD wraps up its journey with Endless Rain which literally sounds like endless rain through the effect of a very steady tremolo.

My endless fascination with water and musical interpretations thereof drew me to this CD. It was my first experience with DeGrassi and his virtuosity on the guitar was a wonderful surprise. If you enjoy an incredible guitarist, a wonderful composition about water, or a truly pleasant and meditative listen, then you just can't go wrong with a copy of The Water Garden.

Track Listing:

  • Prelude
  • The Zipper
  • The Water Garden
  • Lost in the Woods
  • Another Shore
  • Cumulus Rising
  • Ripple
  • Vanishing Point
  • Down Below
  • Endless Rain
All selections composed and performed by Alex De Grassi (41:44 minutes)

Edited by: David Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 1998, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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