Three Improvisations on Modified Banjo

by Paul Metzger

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In a time where an increasing deluge of acoustically-oriented recordings are being pumped up with words like “iconoclastic” or “transcendental,” it can sometimes be difficult for the adventurous listener to have any clue as to how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hype and hyperbole be damned; this is the real deal. Metzger’s title “modified banjo” could tend to confuse even the most discerning among us. While it is indeed true that a visual inspection will reveal an instrument so mutated that it bears little resemblance to that simultaneously venerated and reviled backwoods icon that it once was (he has added more than a dozen strings, a sitar bridge and otherwise mutated a traditionally limiting instrument into something entirely unique), it is ultimately one’s ears that will yield the most incredulous reactions and ask the hardest questions after being fed their particular set of stimuli, as it is ultimately Metzger’s approach to the instrument and the sounds and melodies he wrenches from it that are the greatest and most significant modifications being made here.

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released January 1, 2005

Produced by Alan Sparhawk
Recorded by Eric Swanson

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Paul Metzger Saint Paul, Minnesota

"…Metzger’s banjo and guitar contain multitudes. Suspended between past and future, honouring the tradition while hijacking it, listening for its voice while revelling in its inarticulacies; this is how the thing sings. And the song, in the obsessive extensions of Metzger’s instruments, truly has no ending." - The Wire. ... more

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