Az Samad -- "emo attack turtle"
(self-released, 2010, CD)
Malaysian guitar wizard Az Samad, currently based in Berkeley, California, delivers a short set of solo acoustic fingerstyle improvisations. These ongoing note flurries evoke the breezy-hillside-under-moving-clouds vibe you'd get from Michael Hedges or some of Leo Kottke's more ethereal work. Az's only description is, "This is a concept album about the elusive emo attack turtle," and his track titles tell a little more. "Emo Turtle Suite" includes "These are broken smiles," a gently descending figure that flows through degrees of simplicity and complexity; "Hidden within summer's laugh," which moves from slow ostinato to hurried chords, passing through harmonics and dissonant intervals; and "A disguised giggle," featuring a rhythmic hitch on the bass strings, a percussive slap, and fast, jazzy changes with a visit to the sprung sound of guitar strings above the nut. The three movements of "Attack Turtle Suite" are half as long. "Welcome" is built around a high melodic phrase that soon develops a bass response. "Battle Prep" is the most chordal piece yet, restless and gently aggressive. "Attack Mode" builds dissonant chords on a steady bass, a suspenseful workout that could be scary on electric guitar. These two suites are followed by an "Epilogue," subtitled "Convergence (of the emo attack turtles)." Here melody emerges from a cluster of dissonant chords, developing a dialog that includes the "Attack Mode" bass and almost-standard major chords. The entire set is both exhilarating and relaxing, and at just under 30 minutes, way too short. -- Alan K. Lipton
Published in Exposé #39, Summer 2011. Zine available for $7.00 US via snail mail from Exposé, 6167 Jarvis Ave. #150, Newark, CA 94560 USA. Content may appear online eventually at www.expose.org
but don't hold your breath.