Luciano Margorani
My Favorite Strings


A guitar player and "instant composer", the forty-something Luciano Margorani has been professionally active since the eighties, first with the "Rock In Opposition" group called La1919, then as a solo artist. Maybe given the present times - which could be charitably defined as being "not very favourable" to the kind of music he plays - he has decided to stick to a CD-R-based, home-made label, BoZo. Which is a pity, really, since an album like Solo Concert, which he released last year - simplifying a bit: echoes of Fred Frith, a homage to Phil Manzanera, a pinch of Fripp - would have deserved many more reviews than those made possible by its "virtual" status.

A problem that should not apply to My Favorite Strings, an album of duos that's at times quite brilliant. These are long-distance collaborations with guitar players who are stylistically quite diverse - and the fact that the album sounds good as a whole, as a listening experience, speaks volumes about the many virtues of Margorani, some of which are maybe not so apparent at first (besides playing an assortment of guitars, Margorani is also featured on basses, loops, sampled drums and various devices).

My Favorite Strings could in a way be said to be the sequel - the Volume 4 - to the Fred Frith-initiated series called Guitar Solos, which was for many a revelation when it comes to names and approaches way off the beaten path. Here the list of participants is long and prestigious: we have historic names like Derek Bailey and, from the U.S.A., Eugene Chadbourne, Davey Williams, Elliott Sharp, Henry Kaiser; we have Nick Didkovsky of Doctor Nerve and Mike Johnson of Thinking Plague; Wädi Gysi from Switzerland; and from Holland, Frank Crijns of Blast. There's a little group of Italian colleagues: Angelo Avogadri, Giorgio Casadei, Franco Fabbri, Roberto Zanisi, Roberto Zorzi. In truth, I think that some cuts that seem to go nowhere in particular - for instance, Astéroïde B 612 and Jimmy Il Fenomeno - would have been better left on the cutting floor, since they could bore the listener, usually not very keen when it comes to the "miscellaneous CD" category.

And that should be a pity, since this album has many winning tracks. Starting with its literal starting point, A Little Walk With Tomba, with an exuberant performance by Gysi. The rhythmically jumpy Incontri Casuali, with Crijns, is quite beautiful. Also beautiful are the Frithian arias of Sogni Ad Occhi Aperti, with Avogadri. It's quite easy to find traces of Chadbourne in The King Of Parmesan and of Mike Johnson in the post-prog of City Circus. An elaboration of a track by Derek Bailey that had already been released on Solo Guitar Improvisations, Vol. 2 (1992), Mr. Jack Russell easily demonstrates Margorani's musicality: here he brings to the surface some harmonizations and counterpoints that were potentially implicit (can we say "present in absentia"?) in the original guitar solo - which I obviously had fun listening to again after listening to this version. I'd call Didkovsky's contribution on Half Awake, Half Asleep "quite stimulating, of course".

Closing the CD, as a bonus track, we have Would You Prefer Us To Lie? - a song written by Chris Cutler and John Greaves that Henry Cow had played live in 1977-78 but which is still unreleased on record. Here Margorani plays all the instruments, while the vocals (in a way quite reminiscent of Dagmar Krause) are by Carla Sanguineti.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2004 | April 6, 2004