Paul Metzger: Angular, Ungainly Beauty

II

4 min 24 sec
 
Paul Metzger i i

Minneapolis guitarist Paul Metzger showcases a tinkerer's sense of adventure in the rambling, percussive "II." courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
Paul Metzger

Minneapolis guitarist Paul Metzger showcases a tinkerer's sense of adventure in the rambling, percussive "II."

courtesy of the artist

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "II"
  • Artist: Paul Metzger
  • CD: The Uses of Infinity
  • Genre: Experimental

Minneapolis guitarist Paul Metzger showcases a maximalist aesthetic and a tinkerer's sense of adventure in his rambling, percussive solo works. Over the course of 30 years, playing modified banjo and acoustic guitar, he's honed a style that's austere and verbose, elegant and rustic.

It's rooted in finger-style guitar and Indian classical music, and while it resembles both, it has its own angular, ungainly beauty. A long stint in the voluble (and very, very loud) trio TVBC perfected his skill at starting a piece out full-bore and then building intensity to a precariously exhilarating level — Metzger's acoustic sets these days almost require earplugs.

His latest album, The Uses of Infinity, is a six-part suite for his 23-string banjo, which is strung like an Indian instrument called the sarod. The featured track "II," like its five kin, was recorded in a century-old abandoned church in rural Minnesota. The echoes (and maybe ghosts?) in the old house of worship, along with the sharpness and lack of sustain of Metzger's attack, gives the album a fragile ambiance.

"II" starts with Metzger sliding and picking in a delicate metallic meandering. Then the strings get strummed like they're a dirty floor — and Metzger's the man with the soapy brush. A tentative musical structure rolled out early on gets built upon with more strumming, more pummeling of the strings. Then, with a plucked flourish and a little thematic restating, "II" disappears into the air like a patch of morning fog.

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Uses of Infinity

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Album
Uses of Infinity
Artist
Paul Metzger
Label
Locust

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