Dominic Frasca: Deviations

Dominic Frasca brings an impressive CV to Deviations, his solo debut featuring compositions by Philip Glass, Marc Mellits, and the guitarist himself. Not only was the six and ten-string virtuoso christened Guitar Player's 'Guitar Hero of 2005,' he also performed Steve Reich's “Electric Guitar Phase” on the composer's 2001 Triple Quartet recording. Recorded without overdubs, Frasca plucks, taps, and picks (even strikes the instrument's body with blocks of wood) like a man possessed throughout Deviations' hour-long set. With an audacious technique inspired more by ensemble playing than other guitarists, he plays cross-string arpeggios with his fingers while playing percussion lines with his thumb (actually an idea gleaned from the music of Anthony Davis, one of Frasca's Yale instructors). While he's clearly at home executing the architectonic constructions of Glass's “Two Pages” and his own driving 23-minute epic “Deviations” (which draws as much from Glass and Reich as it does Spanish music), it's the set's delicate moments that make the most indelible impression, like the reflective nuance he achieves in Mellits' “Lefty's Elegy,” for example, and the graceful coda so beautifully nurtured at the end of “Deviations.” Though there's nothing as iconoclastic to match the time Frasca pushed a stunt guitar through a wood chipper at a mid-‘90s Oberlin College performance, the album is innovative in the way it integrates multiple styles—minimalism, folk, jazz, swing—into a fresh and rather unclassifiable hybrid.

January 2006