Tag Archives: Guitar

Samuel Leipold: Viscosity



Swiss guitarist Samuel Leipold has released an interesting and ambitious album on November 20. ‘Viscosity’ features Samuel as soloist. The inspiration for the songs came from studies on contemporary music and includes Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, overtone compositions by French composer Gerard Grisey or minimalistic work by US composer Morton Feldman.

Samuel developed and composed the material on the album over a period of two years where he made little notes of sounds and intervals during practicing. His journey on sounds and how the fit together were the building blocks for the compositions.

He decided to put them onto a solo album because he found it very difficult to explain his ideas and the underlying esthetics to other musicians. Good friends also encouraged him to make this record

All songs were recorded during one session in October 2019 at a friends small studio in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The album starts with the title song ‘Viscosity’  where the guitar is accompanied by some cracking natural sounds which have been recorded just outside the recording studio.


The album continues with three compositions called ‘Sediment I – III’.  These compositions have been developed for two concerts where Samuel was asked to perform as soloist. We hear Samuel’s  passion for sounds, for clusters and for unconventional harmonies. The three songs are written out in detail and show Samuel Leipold’s expertise in composing contemporary music for the guitar.

‘Parsi’ plays again with ambient sound elements from which the guitar rises. Very nice guitar sound effects and great dynamics are the main characteristics of this tune.

‘Ex Machina’ is in contrast to the last song again a piece for solo guitar.  The sounds and harmonies developed in this song are partly composed and partly improvised. Samuel explained to me that this is the perfect combination for him, playing with sounds and reacting spontaneously and intuitively.

‘Shō’ comes next and this song is based on the Japanese reed musical instrument with the same name.  The chords are based on the clustered standard chords which the shō produces. Samuel is accompanied by a friend playing the bass clarinet. When I started to listen to the album I found this song being the easiest to listen to and it is still one of my favorite songs on the album.

The album continues with ‘Antimon’. Samuel told me that this song is based on a Villa-Lobos etude for classical guitar. He changed the tuning of the guitar where the A and the B-string are tuned a halftone below the standard tuning which creates this special sound. Adventurous but it expands our hearing conventions.

The album finishes with ‘Piano & Guitar’ a very spontaneous and improvised song where Samuel returns to ambient sound. Samuel told me that the inspiration for this song came from Morton Feldman’s ‘Piano and String Quartet’. Samuel plays the piano block chords and the guitar is very much alienated producing a very special and strange sound, more like a noise. However the song has a meditative character.

‘Viscosity’ is an album that combines avant-garde elements, ambient sounds, modern composition techniques and improvisational elements. It shows the musical exploration Samuel Leipold has taken and I find it great that he shares his ideas and personal expressions. I think to produce and release this album was quite a courageous step for Samuel but the result is remarkable and inspiring.

The album has a unique maelstrom  where solo guitar songs and ambient sounds alternate but create uniform aesthetics and a homogenous experience. Please take your time to listen to this album, you will not regret it

More information about Samuel Leipold is available on his website:

And finally the Spotify playlist with the complete album:


Sylvain Luc: Sylvain Luc by Renaud Letang

Sylvain Luc by Renaud Letang

Today’s album comes from French guitarist Sylvain Luc, one of my favorite guitar players. The last few albums he released were all in duo setup, one with Richard Galliano on accordion, another with Marylise Florid on guitar and the last album with Stéphane Belmondo on trumpet. This time Sylvain Luc teams up with producer Renaud Letang in a studio duo setup.

Sylvain plays all the instruments mainly different guitars, bass (he is also an excellent bass player) and some keyboards. The album contains new original material composed by Sylvain Luc and Renaud Letang.

Renaud has some more details on the production process:
“The production of this album was carried out in several stages.
I first asked Sylvain to compose themes specifically for this project, giving great importance to the simplicity and effectiveness of the melody.
Secondly, we jointly chose the compositions that could suit the style of production that I imagined. The next step was to record demos only with Sylvain in order to get the best of himself without the intervention of other musicians.
This approach led us to glimpse what the identity of the album could be. At this stage it seemed obvious to us not to use drums or percussions in order to keep the intimate side of the production. The limited choice of instruments and sounds was ultimately decisive (electric guitar, midi guitar, acoustic guitar, electric bass, Roland Juno 60 and a multitude of old and modern effects pedals)”.

And Sylvain adds:
“Apart from an acoustic piano, a few old synthesizers that Renaud owned, and a handful of bass parts, there is only guitar. But I arrived with a whole arsenal of pedals with singular sounds, in particular octavers, the idea being to “derive” the guitar from its usual sound palette”.

The result is a fantastic album with Sylvain’s distinctive guitar style combined with rich sounds and textures.

The album starts with “La source des castors” where Sylvain Luc already pulls out all the stops of his guitar and bass effects with a little bit of synthesizer background setting the stage for the things to come.

“B-Beach” is the next song and this song is one of my favorites on the album. Great guitar groove, nice harmonic and rhythmic surprises and a cool bass solo.

The album continues with “Ne vois-tu rien venir”, another beautiful melody and a great guitar solo with a few kicks with octavers added.

The next song “80 vs 2000″ is the hidden motto of this album, the combination of analog sounds and effects of the ’80s combined with the listening habits and expectations from digitally created music. In the middle an easy floating guitar melody. This is definitely the highlight of the album.

“Bolero langoureux” comes in strict opposite with an acoustic guitar opening and guitar and bass in dialog in this gorgeous ballad.

The next song “Funny Blues” is not a blues as we would expect it, however is another example of Sylvain Luc’s skills to compose beautiful melodies. “What was surprising was that I have positioned myself as a singer, ultimately”, summarizes Sylvain Luc.

“Vue du septième” comes more like a children’s song, very easy going and harmonic with a nice and steady groove.

“Indie souvenirs” is an evocation of an Indian tour of 2009, offering a kaleidoscope of syncopated rhythms with string glissandos. The theme is dubbed with a bottleneck guitar and the steel-drum solo is played on a guitar-synth.

“Pensée nomade” is in contrast acoustic, played on a classical nylon string guitar.

The album closes with a last dance “Transe 18″. A hypnotic motive is the base for this song, an obvious melody does not exist, only a sparse bass pattern and some synthesizer harmonies added with a long fade out. A perfect ending for this album.

Overall this album is outstanding, it breathes the extraordinary guitar playing of Sylvain Luc but also the current “Zeitgeist” where you are thrown back to yourself with all those limitations during the pandemic. The collaboration between Sylvain Luc and Renaud Letang worked perfectly and I can highly recommend this album.

More information about Sylvain Luc, upcoming concerts and links to his albums and videos are found on his website:

And finally the Spotify playlist with the complete album: