Wolfgang Muthspiel

Angular Blues
(ECM)

Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel is well-served in his collaboration with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade by ECM’s characteristically sensitive, transparent sonic style. His latest dispatch for the label displays to full advantage his fingerpicking precision, attractively beady tone, melodic abilities and attention to group dynamics that gives his repertoire drama, color and shape.

Colley adds depth to the songs, being prominent from the very start of “Wondering.” The bassist’s solos are fleet, his sound darkly solid, his parts crucial for the full affect of pieces like “Kanon In 6/8,” where Muthspiel lets loose most aggressively. Blade contributes generously, with restraint (or he’s just dialed down in the mix). He uses cymbals sparely, often for a splash coming off a roll; his fills, as on the title track, are propulsive without being pushy or hurried. Technically, the album seems faultless, realizing just what Muthspiel intends. Emotionally, it ranges from moody reverie (“Hüttengriffe,” “Camino”) to brisk, angular (“Ride”) and relatively lighthearted (“Everything I Love,” “I’ll Remember April”). This is a well-played record; not earthshaking, innovative or especially challenging, but sure to interest guitarists and guitar aficionados.