NORMAN WESTBERG: MRI CD ROOM40
Westberg may be better known for his work with the legendary SWANS; and for me it’s a treat to hear the solo output of this great guitarist (I haven’t up until now).
Norman recently underwent an MRI scan over loss of hearing loss in his right ear; and this album conceptually follows the experience through a series of rolling guitar pieces. The end result is wiry and engaging reverberated affair, with a sea of delay providing a wash of ambient resonance.
Musically speaking, the title track is a sparse echoing affair that is overshadowed by ‘410 Stairs’; capitalising on the experience by letting individual guitar plucks create a harmony that was lacking on its opening counterpart.
Whilst not being maybe the finest example of what can be done with guitar ambient (Fennesz, springs to mind), Westberg has delivered a solid piece of work that does its job well. ‘MRI’ creates a cold, almost mechanical interpretation of the genre; and for me just lacks some more essential key harmonies to engage me as a whole. This is worth getting hold of however, as the disengagement is most likely the whole point of this release given its subject matter.