Both Matt Montfort (here) and his band Ancient Future (here and here) have been reviewed in FAME before, and the work is always superlative, but this one, a CD 11-minute single, is an expression of solo virtuosity on a variant axe which isn't employed by very many, Ed Powell (here) being one other. As such, Sympathetic Serenade for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar bridges classical atmospheres in three realms: Far Eastern, European, and Western. Primarily a Spanish composition, there's nonetheless always a generous infusion of raga structures and riffs in Montfort's work as well as more Westerly rhythmatics. Sympathetic Serenade is no exception. To try to pin any of the song down an era placement, however, will strain one's faculties, so I suggest the listener just enjoy the music for what it always is: brilliant modern semi-neoclassical work with very strong ties to the traditional residing within progressive annals.
To warm the reader to just how inspired Montfort and his crew are, I'll once again refer this link for Ancient Future's reunion live piece, 14 Steps, a jam that'll knock your socks off, a cross between Shadowfax, Oregon, and Mahavishnu Orchestra…and it's something I keep a constant reference to in my computer. Montfort's just wailing away, as is everyone, and when I want something really exhilarating, I go there, to Shadowfax's The Shape of a Word and Linear Dance (off Watercourse Way), the Windham Hill ensemble's live Clockwork (An Evening with Windham Hill Live), or any of a dozen similarly transcendent compositions. Don't expect quite so fiery a performance in Sympathetic Serenade, however. It's a bit more, for lack of a better word, serious, more chamber oriented, though not quite the kind of 'noblesse oblige' found with afternoon teas in Kennebunkport. In your living room, headset, or I-Pod, on the other hand, it'll be just the thing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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