Posts by raven

“Ishi” solo – instrumental version

Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 in Video | 0 comments

“Ishi” solo – instrumental version

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Taplas (Wales)

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – How has this innovative guitarist stayed off the radar for so long? Technically, stylistically and most important of all, passionately he is up there with the greats. Think Martin Simpson, Stephen Fearing, Leo Kottke, the late Isaac Guillory, he genuinely has what they have and in similar quantity. What, very interestingly, sets him slightly apart is an even greater breadth of stylistic influences. Sure Messrs Fearing and Simpson have their share of experimentalism, but Walter Strauss here incorporates the sound of the West African kora, a little Native American folklore, and just a sprinkling of 60s psychedelia into his repertoire. Apparently he has been performing at festivals in the USA, Canada and as close as Ireland, but only visited England and Wales earlier this year. Keep your eyes peeled for dates. On the evidence of Planet Solitaire, he is a guitarist you just have to see. – Trefor...

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Guitarist Magazine – 4 Stars

Posted by on Nov 5, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – World music with one foot on home turf. For listeners with eclectic tastes, Planet Solitaire offers a glimpse into the ear-bending possibilities of bringing the harp-like phrasing and polyrhythms of West African kora music to the steel-string acoustic guitar. Strauss is a spirited player and a strong vocalist – and this new album meanders pleasantly between guitar interpretations of world-music styles and nuanced songwriting with shades of Al Stewart in tracks such as Weather Rule. Bridging the gap between pop and world music can sometimes lead to cringe-making ‘fusions’ but American-born Strauss has managed to integrate the musical traditions of far-flung continents very effectively with those of his homeland. –...

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Folk and Roots

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – A native of Wyoming and acknowledged wizard of the intricacies of the fingerstyle guitar, Walter’s also a songwriter who drags rootsy Americana from the open spaces of the Midwest out into the far reaches of the globe. In the past, he’s worked with musicians from West Africa to Australia to Finland, weaving together seemingly disparate musical strands and disciplines into a surprisingly seamless whole. Like his debut CD Pulling Shadows, which very much impressed me on its appearance back in the spring of 2009, Planet Solitaire is an astoundingly eclectic collection that at its best delicately stuns with its breathtaking solo virtuosity (no other musicians appear on the record) and enchants with its supple imagery. I don’t necessarily warm to all Walter’s solitary planetary excursions (I find The Salamander mildly pretentious), but at its most inventive and listenable (which is the vast majority of the time) Walter’s music recalls that of Brooks Williams, perhaps with a more pronounced African influence but without quite the same degree of espousal of his blues heritage. Walter’s own melodies tend to ramble in what often seems more random tonal progressions, but generally to potent effect, as in the Native-American-inspired homage Ishi. This time round, the album contains six instrumental cuts (including one brief reprise) and just five vocal numbers: one of the former is a creative, raga-rippling non-vocal rendition of George Harrison’s Within You Without You, and finely realised though that is, perhaps the most intriguing of the instrumental cuts is Gypsydish, which intermingles inspirations from Spanish guitar tradition and the funky cross-rhythms typical of Malian harp music played on the kamal’ngoni; not far behind in the satisfaction stakes, though, is Walter’s exploration of the traditional kora song Soutoukou, learnt from the great kora master Mamadou Diabate (with whom he’s toured in a duo). Among the songs, the most curveball of Walter’s choices is an abridged resurrection-cum-reworking of the lesser-known Woody Guthrie number The Great Historical Bum, while Walter also shows a keen response to the gentle poetics and tricky, windswept harmonic changes of fellow-songwriter Andy Rinehart’s Weather Rule. Another vocal highlight comes with Walter’s own composition Blessed Sunday, a masterly reflection on the lives and inner stories of several men of his father’s generation whose choices led them to a solitary life. Planet Solitaire is definitely one of those few-and-far-between genuinely satisfying and wholly stimulating solo records where the listener really doesn’t miss the presence of supporting musicians in any way. – David...

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fRoots Magazine (UK) – Thumbs Up

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – fRoots Magazine (UK) – Thumbs up. If you haven’t encountered Strauss’s guitar take on kora music, this is a great place to start. He brings his incendiary technique to George Harrison and even Woody Guthrie songs as well, and his own stuff is left-field and good, too.

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