Wednesday, 9 November 2016

John Abercrombie - Characters (1978)

A year or so after appearing on Jack DeJohnette's Pictures, it was John Abercrombie's turn to record the only completely solo album of his career.  A masterclass in gorgeous melodies and perfectly-realised overdubbing, Characters comes across like a looser (semi-improvised at times), more fluid precursor to Pat Metheny's New Chautauqua.  Opening with a sole, echo-laden electric mandolin, tuned as to effectively be a soprano guitar (and Abercrombie staple in this era), the lengthy Parable eventually fills out into a spectacular tapestry of guitar layers.

After this memorable introduction, the meat of the album is composed of beautifully languid duets for different layers of acoustic and liquid electric guitar, plus a further two standout tracks in their use of effects.  Ghost Dance is chilly and atmospheric in its use of reverb and delay, and closer Evensong employs echo/volume pedal effects to almost evoke a small organ or harmonium, before filling out with spindly, rushing arpeggios.  This evocative soundscape closes a great album on a high, and makes you want to start right over again with the other outstanding track Parable.  The fact that there's nothing else quite like Characters in Abercrombie's catalogue makes it all the more essential listening.



  1. A very nice album. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Alan. Do not know this one. Sounds interesting.

  3. One of the best albums in the ECM catalogue. Right up there with "Northern Song" and "Safe Journey". Nice post Alan.

    1. Thanks Chico. I have 'Safe Journey', must dig it out and post it at some point!

  4. Fantastic post. Loving the ECM as much of it new to me.

  5. I've got this on vinyl. Beauty beyond words.

  6. thanx for this 320 kbps upload

  7. Many thanks!