Instrumental wizard Mark Vickness has returned three years after the release of his debut with a new acoustic fusion record called ‘Interconnected’. The “on/off” arrangement means that the eight-track record goes back and forth between ensemble numbers and modern fingerpicking solo pieces; it’s a little jarring at first, but eventually the flow begins to make sense.
On the group tracks, Vickness is joined by the Grammy Award-winning Mads Tolling on violin, Joseph Hebert on cello, Dan Feiszli on the bass, and Ty Burhoe on tabla. With a strong rhythmic element at play, the team mix folk, jazz, classical, and world music to create a unique pastiche. According to Mark Vickness:
“…the music on this recording is intended to convey interconnectedness, the reality that we live in an interconnected, interdependent world, that we are all one human race. Instrumental music is an ideal means of expressing this because it is a universal language. This ensemble is comprised of musicians who are capable of a wide range of styles from different cultures and different eras. I worked hard to write this music with interconnectedness in mind, within each piece individually and in the relationships between the pieces themselves.”
The ensemble piece ‘Interwoven’ leads the way with a bold string arrangement and deft guitar lines before a sudden broadening of horizons and a hardened pace. The sound then evolves into something brighter and more thoughtful that weaves back and forth through open spaces and slow buildups. The touching ‘Grey Skye’ follows with its gorgeous textures, multiple layers, and alternating percussive lines before segueing into ‘Hot Apple Stuff’. This number develops steadily into a folky, jaunting piece with soaring strings that glide over sturdy, hearty, rhythmic guitar works and later a moody and charming cello.
A bluesier feature comes with ‘Bodega Blue’, a solo Vickness piece with a jumpy rhythm that’s accentuated by the guitar taps. The glistening open tuning mixed with a meandering chord progression makes for a picturesque scene expertly crafted by the composer. This one leads into the more cinematic ‘6 and 7’, which takes the scene-building vibe to greater heights with its ominous drones and barren landscapes. Capping things off is ‘One Day Over A Thousand’, a tribute to those who lost their lives to COVID-19 including a friend of Mark Vickness who passed away in the middle of recording. This one displays some of the most intricate and sophisticated guitar playing on the release and is a truly evocative work.
Interconnected is an excellent acoustic fusion album that blends diverse influences and displays decades worth of playing and honed talent from seasoned musicians. If you’re a fan of any of the nerdier guitar material found on labels like CandyRat Records (Andy McKee etc.), this is a must listen.