Well there’s no denying that many of us are pretty excited about the imminent return of David Lynch’s iconic television series Twin Peaks this year, some 25 odd years after it ended. One person who will no doubt have a passing interest is Lebanese guitarist and studio engineer Fadi Tabbal, whose third solo album is named after the final line in the original series. Of course we know it wasn’t really Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) asking the question, but the evil entity Bob who had taken over his body, layering what outwardly appeared to be a question of concern with malicious deceptive intent that quickly builds into hysteria.
Tabbal too is not what he seems. Listening to this one long piece, a warm looped bass drone over which all manner of different pitches of sound evolve and oscillate, it’s a world away from his role in rock groups The Incompetents and Bunny Tylers, though he also has an experimental trio Under the Carpet and performs in folk ensembles. Clearly there are many sides to his musical personality.
It begins with stark, yet warm bass drones whilst other electronic oscillations attach themselves like barnacles as the piece evolves. The Lynchian moment comes midway where everything becomes softer and more ethereal, like a warm white light has appeared and dwarves dance and giants wave their fingers. It’s a fascinating effect, a softening of his experimental electrics, into a gorgeous dense ethereal drone and structurally it’s amazing, where it slowly builds into a rhythmic crescendo, reminiscent of Black Dice when they focused less on their guitars and more on their fx pedals, which is pretty much what Tabbal is doing, creating the most un guitar album you can imagine – via guitar. It’s experimental for sure, yet nothing is strummed or plucked, its one constant sound perhaps played via an ebow and treated via fx.
There are so many opportunities to build towards noise, and that’s where you expect that he will head, yet Tabbal has little interest in such formulaic directions, and seems to enjoy developing or hinting at those expectations, and then unexpectedly evolving into an ethereal experimental psychedelia. It displays a real understanding of not just dynamics but also an affinity using the frequency spectrum as a compositional tool to move between his dense suites of sounds. Not surprisingly headphones are recommended.