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World Music CD Reviews North American

STEVE TIBBETTS

By TOM ORR
Published March 3, 2006

A Man About A Horse
ECM

Steve Tibbetts’ specialty, creating guitar-generated, effects-laden compositions loosely structured around percussion from all over, remains intact on his first ECM release in eight years. Unchanged is his post-Hendrix penchant for slicing and dicing riffs and samples and building walls of sound. While his gift for doing so is undeniable, it’s often hard to tell how good a player he is amidst all the gadgetry and lack of conventional songs. Even so, there’s a lot to like, with “Lupra” setting the tone via a good mix of mood and melodic leaning. “Black Temple” is a lengthy, satisfying sonic journey, as is “Burning Temple” with its distant gamelan textures. And the acoustic “Koshala” achieves a sweetness indicative of what Tibbetts holds back most of the time. Longtime collaborator Marc Anderson is typically brilliant on hand drums, with percussionist Marcus Wise and bassist Jim Anton adding richness and depth. Tibbetts may one day make an album that perfectly balances his skills and artistic vision. This isn’t it, but it will provide enjoyment in the meantime.