Joel Nelson: Only People Talking
Joel Nelson's debut album of solo guitar excursions is a map of new sonic possibles for the instrument. The guitar becomes an esoteric object stripped of all history and approached as an assemblage of elemental materials: a piece of wood with metal strings and a magnetic coil. It's lonely twang refracted through the lens of automatic playback and the crepusculent world of nighttime darkness. Recorded on a single night in late Spring, the textural and rhythmic playing maintains a consistent tone that is both mysterious and cleansing. Nelson's active role in the Bay Area and Birmingham, Alabama improv music scenes has led him to study and collaborate with improv legends Fred Frith and Davey Williams, two guitarists known for destroying the master narratives of how the instrument should be played. Nelson's work stands as a new voice in this rich avant-guitar lineage. Only People Talking was recorded shortly after Joel completed his Master’s thesis in music, which he chose to write about free improvisation in the work of Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith, and the Raudelunas community in 1970s era Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You can read the full thesis text here.
An Earth Hotel Podcast reading of Joel’s thesis work can be heard here.