Ben Monder

Day After Day

The unpredictable Ben Monder delivers a double-disc set of covers, interspersing profundity and mischievous curveballs. The guitarist’s wide breadth of sources almost is amusing: Jazz standards sit alongside an Olivier Messiaen choral interpretation, and numbers by Bob Dylan and The Carpenters. But the breathtaking solo set is the gem here. Overflowing with ideas, the predominant tone is meditative and ethereal, colored by Monder’s bold soloing. A highlight is “Emily,” where Monder employs his astonishingly independent fingerpicking technique, creating restless, layered counterpoints beneath the gently stated melody. A seismic shift begins to rumble on disc two, beginning with Jimmy Webb’s “Galveston,” when bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Ted Poor groove in a satisfying, stripped-down backbeat. By mid-tune, the troupe abruptly erupts into distorted power-trio mode for some well-placed shredding. But after things seem to get cozy during the easy bounce of Bread’s “The Guitar Man,” Monder closes the disc with an utterly unrecognizable take on Badfinger’s “Day After Day,” reimagined as drone metal. It’s a rewarding roller coaster, one best experienced in sequence.