The genre of Takoma school vocalless guitar music is like so many other pleasureful things. It?s something for connaisseurs. People who are into picking patterns, open tunings and other technical aspects of guitar playing will find deep pleasure in the different approaches the guitarists take. And since texture, melody and modulating play large roles in this subgenre, there?s also a lot to discuss and compare to that end.
In the last few years, a small group of talented guitarists has materialized which keep providing hungry listeners with new musical food. And each of them has his own personal style (there are not many women involved unfortunately). Glenn Jones, known through more than a half dozen records as guitarist for Cul de Sac, may be the most traditionalist and also the most subtle and poetic of said group of guitarists. Almost three years after his solo debut ?This is the Wind That Blows It Out?, Jones comes back with a worthy successor to that album. In many ways, ?Against Which the Sea Continually Beats? is very similar to its predecessor. Again, Jones has picked an old postcard from Germany displaying a living creature with a guitar for the cover. Also, he again provides lots of information on the guitars used, the tunings employed and the background of the tunes. The liner notes are actually quite interesting to read. Reading them, Jones comes across the same way his music sounds.
One difference to the first album is that the new one is way longer, maybe even a bit too long. Other than that, everything stays the same. Jones has some slide pieces on the album, some of them better than others. His strengths actually lie more in the longer non-slide pieces where he has enough time to develop his complex melodic approaches. Some of those long pieces are really really excellent. For example, ?The Teething Necklace?, which Glenn Jones dedicated to John Fahey, has tons of different ideas packed into 10 minutes. But at the same time, they don?t just sound stringed to each other, but like one coherent piece. It begins like a traditional raga, slow, easy and introductory. To follow on that beginning, it would have been easy to just develop on the chord and vary a bit. Instead, Jones uses some themes and repeats them here and there, but he does it with such knowledge of the right place for each element that it just seems to be in a perfect equilibrium.
While ?The Teething Necklace? is the definite highlight of the album, there are quite a few other outstanding tunes on the record. The very traditional sounding ?Little Dog?s Day? for example is simply heartwarming. In a way, that tune represents the qualities of ?Against Which the Sea Continually Beats?. This album is in no way revolutionary and maybe not even an improvement to Jones? first solo album. Nonetheless, it?s like a good old friend on the phone, always nice to hear. 8/10 -- Stephan Bauer (13 March, 2007)