Neil Haverstick: Snake Dance
Neil Haverstick (34-tone electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, slide guitar)
Stick Man: Electric Music for 19 and 34 Tone Guitars (Hstick)
Neil Haverstick (34-tone electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, slide guitar),
Ernie Crews (drums, percussion).
Composed by Neil Haverstick.
Recorded: Colorado, date unknown; released 2005
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Neil Haverstick has been a practitioner, teacher and promoter of microtonal music for many years, and on this track plays a guitar customized with a 34-tone equal temperament fretboard, which adds no less than 22 notes to the usual 12 tones per octave of most Western music. Depending on Haverstick's mindset and mode of attack, the resulting effect can vary from quirky to freakish harmonically and rhythmically, while somehow always managing to remain musically logical, intriguing and, most importantly, entertaining.
"Snake Dance" sounds at times like a warped version of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's 1966 East-West, but with Chico Hamilton sitting in on drums. Ernie Crews's mallet work is outstanding throughout, and along with Haverstick's tremulous guitar voicings gives the piece a raga-like or Middle-Eastern character. The occasional striking of a gong contributes to the ambiance. Initially Haverstick's guitar resembles that of Elvin Bishop on the original East-West, but after Crews's solo mallet interlude, the guitarist launches a spate of echoing overtones that take the track in a totally different aural direction. Haverstick shifts briefly to bass guitar at one point, and especially impresses later with some rapid and dexterous slide guitar work. The eerie conclusion seems to come from a nightmarish sci-fi movie in which aliens threaten to take over Earth.
Reviewer: Scott Albin