Harp guitarist extraordinaire Carter continues to make each release different – and this warm, simple and clean instrumental release is among his most complete, accessible and satisfying works.

Time: 9 tracks / 56 minutes
Site:   jasoncarter.net

Carter is more than a harp guitarist extraordinaire. He is a consummate artist. His photos and videos overflow with colour and character. So it is a little surprising perhaps, that his guitar work can sometimes be so restrained and delicate.

If you tried to pigeonhole his music, you would have to start with classical and flamenco, but he is not someone who is happy to stay in a box. Some previous works have included the odd North Korean military band, Asian elements and/or dance beats.

His last two – this and Like You‘ve Never Heard – are possibly the most commercial of the lot.  Like You‘ve Never Heard is a selection of well-known classical pieces played on the harp guitar, with plenty of respect and just enough stylistic changes to freshen them up.

Seeking the Divine (with a note on Bandcamp saying that this is probably the most personal of his albums to date) begins with a ten minute account of Arvo Pärt’s famous “Fratres,” its quietly rhythmic pattern setting the tone well.

After that it is all Carter’s own work, starting with a new version of his beautiful “Guten Morgen Mein Engel.”

He exhibits a clean style here, eschewing the more involved fretwork of which he is capable to create the effect he wants. Every track on this instrumental release has a melodic and meditative quality, with a few harmonics sprinkled about, making it an ideal collection for playing in the evening, for thinking over or to set a mood. He employs a ‘less-is-more’ approach, which brings out the character of each piece.

The only time he ramps up the tempo is with the sprightly “Awakening” and the penultimate track “The Colour of Silence,” where his flamenco tendencies come to the fore.

I cannot think of any acoustic guitar collection more enjoyable than this – and I have heard a few.

Carter is offering his eleven-release discography on Bandcamp at a substantial discount if buying the lot. As well as these two sets and his exotic Embrace with Greek singer Natassa Mare, this includes the lengthy autobiography Making In-roads (several reviewed on this site).

Those who want tasters of his extraordinary life story can find some in my extended interview with him.

Derek Walker