There’s something loose and vaguely uncontrollable about the work of South African born, Australian expat and now UK based guitarist Chris Rainier. His music is unmistakably meditative and evocative, using experimental cross genre techniques, where it almost feels like all he’s trying to do is reign in or perhaps shepherd the intrinsic spirit of his instrumentation. There’s something kind’ve beautiful about this, using his prepared guitar, loops, tape echo, even handclaps and darbuka in a sporadic, somewhat lacsidasical fashion that brings to mind Hawaiian strumming where the objective isn’t pacification, rather a spirit of discovery without the need to make things difficult.
It’s very much an album of strings, where guests like Adam Casey contribute a zither through a fuzzbox or a bowed banjo and singing saw. You can hear the strings being manipulated, notes are held resonating out, plucked, held and progressed. Everything feels slightly scattered but it all works together. There’s a beauty is the chaos, but perhaps more so in the ability of the chaos to find some semblance of unexpected organisation.
But the one thing you don’t hear is a clear clean recognisable pattern, there is mess in his tunes, a sliver of feedback, a bung note, the wail of a slide, competitive uncertainty from his instrumentation. His patterns are tattered and hard won, they feel live, in the room, jammed out according to Rainier’s peculiar preconceptions. Tunes progress in multiple directions but coalesce into one, often acting against musical expectations with surprising sensitivity.
There’s a rough-hewn beauty here simply because of Rainier’s desire not to take the easy options. This is a guitar lover’s album. An opportunity to experience the possibilities of guitar music, freed from genres and allowed to exist as a wild animal of its own accord.
It would be remiss not to mention that this LP is pressed on the most gorgeous vinyl, light blue infused with elements of white, complete with a cover photo by Thor Heyerdahl (the Norwegian explorer of Kon Tiki fame) who took the picture in the early 50s on the island of Rapa Iti, in the Austral islands in French Polynesia. All in all it’s remarkable progressive music contained in a remarkable package. It’s that simple.