Solitude Intones Its Echo
Available through Destiny Records: https://destinyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/solitude-intones-its-echo A guitarist of searching, sophisticated musicality, the Brooklyn-based Harvey Valdes releases his third album – Solitude Intones Its Echo – via Destiny Records on XX XX, 2019. The album, available on vinyl and digital/streaming, features Harvey communing with his electric six-string Teuffel Tesla guitar for a collection of concise, engaging solo improvisations. A mosaic of 18 melody-laced pieces, most around two minutes in length, the record has a quality of concentrated intimacy; sage guitarist and studio ace David Torn mixed and mastered Solitude Intones Its Echo, heightening its atmosphere of contrapuntal introspection. The new album follows Harvey’s solo debut of free takes on jazz standards (Roundabout, 2015) and a bristling, Mahavishnu-meets-math-rock trio album (Pointcounterpoint, with violinist Sana Nagano and drummer Joe Hertenstein, 2016). All About Jazz hailed Pointcounterpoint as “cosmic,” while the Free Jazz Collective described Roundabout as “sublimely beautiful.”
Solitude Intones Its Echo was born from Harvey’s series of “morning improvisations” that he posts regularly on Instagram. He explains: “The album developed out of this exercise in creativity and discipline, where I was trying to make an actual piece of music each morning and share it, something of one minute or less that I streamed live. The process of playing solo, just you and your instrument, becomes this dialogue that you have with yourself. It’s important for any sort of artist to go deep within yourself and bring out what’s inside.”
Torn, who also mastered Pointcounterpoint, bonded with Harvey over guitar and gear (as well as the oud, which both artists play); although decades apart in age – Torn is a longtime ECM artist and composer of high-profile film scores, among much else – the two musicians share a sense of sonic adventurism that runs deep. “When I first heard Harvey, I thought: Well, here’s another badass motherfucker on the scene – wow,” Torn says. “He – like Brandon Seabrook, Mike Baggetta and Alvaro Domene – is one of the young cats I keep up with, one of those special players who has something to say, musically and sonically. Harvey is a special character, seeking his own voice. It’s a real challenge to play improvised solo electric guitar in an individual, alluring way, but Harvey has a flair for leaving space, for holding back in order to play just the right thing.” The admiration is mutual, with Harvey saying of Torn: “He has been such an inspiration over the years as a guitarist, as well as for his ability to maximize things sonically in the studio. David gets what I’m after and really helped me sculpt the sound for the new album."
Solitude Intones Its Echo includes such highlights as “But All Too Prone,” “Everything You Need” and “Still There,” which are kaleidoscopic in their allure – with strong melodies refracted contrapuntally; then there’s the splintered, Monk-like “Scavenger” and rhythmically tense “The Second Points the Way,” as well as the dark-hued “Learned Mercy” and ghostly tone poem “Dismantling Silence.” Along with his “space age-looking” Teuffel Tesla, Harvey employed just his Fryette Memphis amp, plus a touch of reverb via a Strymon Flint pedal. Then Torn added a bit more reverb in the mix for a sound that’s simultaneously Spartan and lush. A new aspect of Harvey’s tone came from this album being “the first where I used a fingerstyle playing method throughout, dropping the pick,” he explains. “Fingerstyle brings out a more polyphonic element in my playing.”