‘No one else has ever done it’: Still at work on new album, Adrian Belew hints at breakthroughs to come

A shift in technology has helped King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew redesign the way he plays guitar. He gave a preview of a forthcoming solo project, and talked about his new computerized rig during an appearance at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Since coming off the road with the double-trio Crimson ProjeKCt last year, Belew has been holed up in his Tennessee studios, developing sounds and textures. As that process has continued, however, the former Talking Heads and David Bowie sideman has said little about what he’s working on. This talk, however, provides some stirring new insights.

In the attached videos, Belew offers two samples of new music. Perhaps the most interesting is a previously unheard song called “Variations of Wave Pressure,” found on the clip below. Preview comments from Belew begin 21:30 minutes into the video, then a segment of the song itself follows at the 22-minute mark.

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In both tracks, Belew starts with a pulsing figure, creating a brilliant tension familiar to anyone who still has a copy of Crimson’s Discipline laying around, even as he continues to build layer after layer of sound from a single guitar. These aren’t repeating lines, however. Each of them sounds individual, unique.

“As I got this new rig set up,” Belew says, “I realized that now I can kind of sound like more than one guitar player. Because I work in a trio format so often, that’s very important. Then I realized, if I treat this the right way, I could also sound like a guitar player that has some bass playing, as well.”

Typically, Belew explains, guitarists have used a delay to achieve a similarly echoed effect. The difference is, rather than replaying the exact note or chord over and over again, as that old technology once did, Belew can now use computers and pedals to create utterly new sounds — live and on stage.

“I realized, with this, I could actually pitch the delay to a different note,” Belew tells the assembled audience, “and I could even do that more than once. That’s the kind of thing I like to find in technology, and then do something with it. No one else has ever done it, so it’s kind of interesting to sit around in your studio and sound like three guys. (Laughs.) You can have arguments with yourself about who gets to turn it up the loudest.”

Belew hasn’t released a title or proposed release date yet for his next project, which would be his first studio effort since 2009′s e. He issued the live ‘e’ for Orchestra with the Metropole Orkest in 2011.


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