Have I ever read a piece on the ten best guitarists that grew like redwoods out of the underground post 1988? No? No, I don’t think so. Sure, you’ll see bleeds from the seventies here, but I am talking penultimate sounds, releases, carbon dating. 1988 forward. Now, having blown the preamble to bits, allow me to write the abbreviated version. Michael Morley, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Ira Kaplan,Jandek, John Davis and David Lester – those are them. They play the guitar like John Bonham plays the drums. Sometimes brash back beat meaty, and at other times sliding around the dials of a voice or bass or drums or a piano, barely there, but fully present. I listen to everything that the six of them do, or I thought I did until May of this year. I found something that was lost to me this past Spring in the thick of the thick. Like a fifty hidden in a Zadie Smith book, I couldn’t believe my luck to have stumbled upon it. Horde of Two.
David Lester, known for his work in Mecca Normal and his work as an illustrator is my kind of guitar hero. If you know his style in either field, you recognize it immediately. Horde of Two is a duo with Lester on the guitar and Wendy Atkinson on the bass. Is that a bass? Is that a cello? Is that an airplane? Their debut has that Mike Watt & Kira Roessler magic of improvisational swing even during quiet passages. There, at the root of their more tempered and ethereal surveying of the landscape prior to the build, it swings there too. The instrumental record “Guitar and Bass Actions” weather maps me in, gets me lost in the terrain. I am simply a passenger on this train. My book is back flapped on my lap, as I can’t stop looking out my wing of the railroad car noting that we are moving from an arid alluvial band to some kind of tundra sun beam glare of blinding light. Prince, he had a few good lyrics, and what he said to me about this record near thirty five years ago is still full on correct today. Prince said “This is not music, this is a trip.”
Lester & Atkinson, as Horde of Two, are at work on a follow up record which will only be available in the air. But wait! They have agreed to allow me to put out a cassette version of the new record when it is out this spring, a better spring than this past one I am forecasting. See, I begged, and then on my knees I pleaded. I said to David and Wendy “I am headed to Taos with a sandwich bag suitcase and a wallet. I have no phone, just my trusty old Walkman. Would you allow me to make a cassette of your second release available to other fellow travelers like me that are still on the path of divorcing themselves from this material world but still in need of a physical fix?” When they nodded in agreement I bought my ticket right there and then. I am salivating in wait. You really need to hear their first release in the meantime. Live with it for awhile. It is an independently minded little beast. Don’t be surprised, if like me, it redecorates the entirety of your surroundings. You, in a spell, mesmerized at how well garland, pine needles. broken bell jars and ice cubes can redefine space.