May 28, 2024

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CD review: David Lord – Forest Standards vol. 1 – 2019: Video

David Lord is a six-string anomaly, a genuine diamond in the rough. Operating in the bubble of Wichita, Kansas has allowed him to pursue his idiosyncratic muse with impunity.

Over time in his search and discovery missions with his chosen instrument, he has cultivated a wholly unique vocabulary that is devoid of any direct influences while showing kindred qualities to such guitar renegades Derek Bailey, Joe Morris, James “Blood” Ulmer, Dom Minasi and Ben Monder, none of whom Lord has checked out to any extent. What the 36-year-old guitarist presents here — his first recording under his own name after 15 releases under the name Francis Moss and with indie-rock bands The Wonder Revolution, Miki Moondrops and Solagget on his own Air House Records label — is so delightfully weird and wonderful, so refreshingly original that it stands as his own personal manifesto for an alternative six-string expression, just as fellow Midwesterner Pat Metheny presented 40 years ago on Bright Size Life.

Lord hinted at this Lydian-based polychordal direction with his Elemental Trio on 2011’s Acorn Life. Now he has taken it to a new level on Forest Standards Vol. 1, which finds him accompanied by the remarkably empathetic, open ended rhythm tandem of acclaimed drummer Chad Taylor (Jeff Parker Trio, Marc Ribot, Chicago Underground) and bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline Singers, Ben Goldberg Quintet, Julia Holter). From the flowing, meditative strains of the dreamy “Hedgehog Mushroom,” marked by Lord’s jangly open string arpeggios, dissonant voicings and ringing harmonics, to the darkly delicate “Beautiful Bolbitius” (his polychordal morphing of the standard “Beautiful Love”) to the harmonic sweep of “Gnome Steps” (his reimagining of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”), Lord puts his distinctive stamp on the proceedings.

Check out his barrage of scattershot pointillism and creative use of backwards effects on “Spore Print Orange,” underscored by Taylor’s sensitive brushwork and Hoff’s fundamental, woody bass tones. Savor the sparks generated by the gestalt crew on the driving 12/8 vehicle “Boletus Badius,” the latticework patterns of swirling psychedelia on “Saffron Parasol,” the moody allure of “Light” or the odd intervallic leaps on a swinging “Spore Dimensions” (his morphing of the jazz standard “Dear Old Stockholm”). Sample the splatter of sonic shrapnel on “Mushroom Weeds” and the spacious explorations of “Wolf’s Milk (Slime Mold)” and eavesdrop on the expansive three-way conversations on “Amethyst Deceiver” or the playful closer “The Cep.”

This is an inventive player freed from convention, the peer pressure of conservatories or a need to fit into any competitive big town scene. He’s creating on his own terms and what this rara avis comes up with here are subversive little gems.

  1. David Lord – Hedgehog Mushroom
  2. Beautiful Bolbitius
  3. Gnome Steps
  4. Spore Dimensions
  5. Light
  6. Saffron Parasol
  7. Boletus Badius
  8. Wolf’s Milk (Slime Mold)
  9. Mushroom Weeds
  10. Spore Print Orange
  11. Amethyst Deceiver
  12. The Cep

Double Bass – Devin Hoff
Drums, Mbira – Chad Taylor
Electric Guitar, Classical Guitar, Glockenspiel, Engineer – David Lord (7)
Electric Guitar, Producer, Mixed By – Chris Schlarb (tracks: B2, B5)
Vibraphone – Sam Hake

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