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Arts & Culture

Meet Two New Voices Of The Guitar, From Players Known For Gonzo Punk

Wendy Eisenberg (left) and Arian Shafiee have new albums due out on VDSQ Records.
Wendy Eisenberg (left) and Arian Shafiee have new albums due out on VDSQ Records.

Wendy Eisenberg and Arian Shafiee come from punk, but also the worlds of improvisation and composition. Eisenberg played in the recently defunct Birthing Hips, the brawny and brainy punk band from Boston. Shafiee is a member the rubbery New York post-punk group Guerilla Toss and writes proggy, large-scale works under his own name. Both guitarists make rewardingly weird punk, but now, each has a new album for the solo guitar label VDSQ. The works help Eisenberg and Shafiee untangle their own music.

"Three Dream Rooms" doesn't actually appear on Wendy Eisenberg's new album, but it does reflect the refracting purpose of Its Shape Is Your Touch. The song and video is edited from three different improvisations filmed in three strikingly designed rooms. Her approach to the instrument recalls the deceptively sparse vocabulary of Derek Bailey, but does "invent [her] own sounds from the cultural wreckage" of the guitar, to quote Eisenberg's description of Birthing Hips' own music. It's patient work that lives loudly in quiet spaces.

At first blush, Arian Shafiee is the more conventional of the two guitarists, working in more melodic modes akin to those of Glenn Jones. "Muted Heather" comes from A Scarlet Fail, and its slow, autumnal melody shifts from mournful to joyous in bursts of fitful pull-offs and brief moments of strummed full chords.


Wendy Eisenberg'sIts Shape Is Your Touchand Arian Shafiee'sA Scarlet Failboth come out onVDSQ Recordsin early November.

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