Compact Disc: Neurodisc Records 0499 2 50222 2 3
By Srajan Ebaen
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Genre: Nouveau Flamenco
Eric Hansen is a classically trained guitarist living and performing in Florida who, in the very popular Nouveau Flamenco style, has found the perfect medium to express his craft. His prior formal training pays huge dividends and utterly avoids the potential triteness that this genre exhibits these days as a function of commercial exploitation by pretty much every record label wanting to cash in on the original Ottmar Liebert craze.
The last discovery in this field that I remember exciting me as much as Without Words must have either been Gipsy-born Chuscales (with his phenomenal first release Encuentros del Alma on Narada unfortunately followed by a much weaker second) or French virtuoso Eric Fernandez with his Magic Gipsy on Higher Octave.
Wait until you hear Bryan Adams' "Have you Really Ever Loved a Woman", most skillfully arranged for multiple overdubbed guitars that feature pedigrees like a 1960 Ramirez Sabicas Model Blanca or Hermanos Conde Felipe, are caressed and made to sing with self-secure mastery and then subtly fleshed out with
palmas, drums and an Ensoniq keyboard sequencer. Impossibly dense, nearly symphonic in fact, Hansen turns this song into a jubilant celebration of heady Mediterranean
joi-de-vivre that makes you wonder which came first, his or Adams' version.
"Reflections Of Her", particularly part 2, strikes me as one of the most quintessentially perfect, completely inspired, intact "channeled" tunes heard in a very long time. Eric Hansen, in a brief email exchange, confided that this composition in fact was laid down in one single session, without any corrections whatsoever, and did visit him as a kind of "ready-made" inspiration, something that's only happened to him once before. This completeness is very palpable. Changing even a single note would only mar it. Everything's perfectly rounded, polished, unerringly progressing forward to the unavoidable last fading decay, with absolutely nothing non-essential "sticking out" that could be discarded or groomed. It opens with hand drums in a slyly syncopated six-based beat and then undergoes the most wonderful melodic unfolding that gently dances on this inherently waltz-like rhythm.
But truly, all the tunes on Without Words glisten with the sophistication of a born wordsmith who fashions his complex poetry with notes instead, uses surprising harmonic twists, wily counter melodies, the wisdom of pauses that often speak louder than many fast notes, a solid technical foundation that always serves the music, and who is obviously aided by a keen artistic maturity that many players in this genre sorely lack. Like fellow guitarist/composer Armik on the
Baja/TSR label, Hansen composed every number (except for the Bryan Adams tune which he arranged), played every instrument, and even engineered and mixed the entire recording by himself. This total attention to detail has fashioned a superbly crafted release that has me eagerly look forward to what this gifted artist will output next. My highest recommendations for Without Words, an album that anyone enjoying high-class guitar music is bound to fall in love with.