Alvarius B Alvarius B

[Abduction; 2006]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: folk, guitar improv
Others: Sun City Girls, Sir Richard Bishop, Alastair Galbraith

Like his brother and fellow Sun City Girl Richard, Alan Bishop uses his solo recordings (which he releases under the Alvarius B moniker) to distill the highly physical, heavily punk rock-influenced playing of his more prominent group into a sparser acoustic setting. Recorded throughout the 1980s and released as a limited run vinyl (but of course!) in 1994, Alvarius B's eponymous debut is a document of Bishop's early attempts at making bedroom meditations throb as fiercely as anything from Torch of the Mystics, and it mostly succeeds, showing its hero thriving in a number of idioms. Lonesome front porch picking, Derek Bailey-style deconstructing, Arabic folk droning, and lyrical Takoma strumming were all present in even Bishop's formative years; listening to these pieces, it's easy to understand both how later Alvarius B projects could be so engaging in spite of their minimal instrumentation and why SCG jump genres so frequently. Listeners may find the tracks' brevity — most are only around a minute long — distracting, but for anyone who's ever owned an instrument, this album captures time and time again one of the most affirming experiencing one can have while playing alone: that of climbing one's way up to a simple but effective motif or idea that yields immediate rewards and seems fit to revisit. Lovers of all things Bishop brothers should be first in line to check this reissue out; even if you own the original vinyl, your completist tendencies should implore you to pick this CD edition up for the four bonus tracks.

1. The Mighty Bufo
2. Gloomy June
3. Day-Glo Joe
4. Mystery Altitude
5. 70 Mile House
6. The Waxing
7. Blue West
8. Cold Piece Capsule
9. Mosquito
10. Phantom Green Light
11. El Mirage
12. Outside Steppes
13. Jet Nicholson Murder
14. Bleak
15. 66 Miles North of Vegas
16. Bad Moves of Distinction
17. Wreckage of Julip
18. Mouth Pacific
19. Jackalope
20. Deputy Piano-Wired
21. Vongco Texas
22. Mesarchuleta
23. Incident in Your Hair
24. Flaming Stagecoach
25. Bloody Whiteshirt Handshake
26. Missing from Pasture
27. Mr. Lonely
28. Cupid's Crossbow
29. Black-Eyed Shrubbery
30. Cancer to Capricorn
31. Missing Trombone
32. Sky Reality