Steve Tibbetts – Big Map Idea (1989/2018) [FLAC 24bit/88,2kHz]

Steve Tibbetts – Big Map Idea (1989/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 52:54 minutes | 933 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © ECM

With this release, Steve Tibbetts turned a new leaf in his cartographic imagination. The album’s title betrays its creator’s humility, acknowledging the incompleteness of any landscape, which is never more than a cultural possibility. We see this the moment that signature slack-jawed guitar and worldly percussion paint for us a big map indeed in “Black Mountain Side.” And what’s this? A Led Zeppelin tune, artfully arranged and wrapped in a sparkling bow as only Tibbetts can tie it. But even when he strays into the dripping caverns of “Black Year,” where flames have burnt out long ago yet still flicker with feeling, we are never lost, for there is always something familiar to hold on to. Tracks like this and “Big Idea” teeter at the edge of an all-out frenzy, but stay respectfully perched atop cold mountains, watching the plains with eagle eyes. Each hit of the steel drum forms a new cloud, rustling the foliage in “Wish” and hopping like a bird from branch to branch. The finger tapping and kalimba-infused connections of “Mile 234” make it one of the more masterful turns on this trip. Some of that same instrumental color bleeds into “100 Moons” before an acoustic/electric dance lays track in “Wait.” Sampled voices flow throughout “3 Letters,” turning like a diorama lit by strings, and finish as if living in reverse, turning light into dark, warm and sustained by a maternal hope.

If the majority of Tibbetts’s work is a chant, then Big Map Idea is a lullaby. It is a florid expression of its ancestors, using a relatively intimate palette, one where wings and earth are far closer to one another than logic would dictate.

“Experimental guitar collides with tabla, kalimba, pianolin, cello, steel drum and other percussion instruments, and tapes of “found sounds.” The CD opens with a lush cover of Jimmy Page’s Black Mountain Side, and ever afterwards devotes itself to the vast, mysterious explorations of Tibbetts and percussionist Marc Anderson. The music’s brooding and orchestral, with moments of Eastern intrigue giving way to sudden crescendos, children’s voices, and industrial grunge. Tibbetts’ bold single-string passages pilot twists and turns above slapped and strummed acoustic rhythms, and his quirky detunings and oddball figures provide a cinematic, edge-of-the-seat experience. No timidity or lack of ideas lurking here.” (Guitar Player)

“Steve Tibbetts is the thinking-man’s guitar player whose music spans a host of influences – folk, jazz, rock, ethnic, modern classical – without being bound by any of them. Opening with a tabla-driven folksy cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Slide,” the album leads us through a collection of original pieces written by Tibbetts and his band members that are full of rich tone colors and inventive rhythms. His main instrument is acoustic guitar, but he also uses guitar synth, dobro, kalimba and something called a pianolin, while his colleagues add tabla, cello, steel drums and assorted percussion. The percussion creates a neo-primitive feel, with the carefully layered instruments often building up to an intense cacophony of refined fury. Sometimes lush, sometimes sparse, this music slips and slides between moods and styles. The crown jewel of the album is the 11-minute final track “3 Letters,” where he splices in the sounds of chanting monks, Tibetan horns and cymbals, and children’s voices he recorded on a trip to Nepal. Meanwhile cello, acoustic guitar, guitar synth, kalimba, tabla and assorted percussion come and go in a dizzying collage of impressionistic sounds.”

1. Black Mountain Side 02:57
2. Black Year 04:41
3. Big Idea 05:14
4. Wish 05:26
5. Station 05:03
6. Start 04:20
7. Mile 234 06:23
8. 100 Moons 05:20
9. Wait 02:14
10. 3 Letters (Pt. 1) 02:49
11. 3 Letters (Pt. 2) 03:06
12. 3 Letters (Pt. 3) 05:02

Steve Tibbetts, guitars, kalimba, tapes
Marc Anderson, drums, percussion, berimbau
Marcus Wise, tabla, kalimba, pianolin
Michelle Kinney, cello, steel drum, percussion, tapes