> reviews and interviews

Media feedback on my music is the order of business here. You can scroll through the articles, or jump to any of them using the direct links below:

Interview with Mike Corwin @ This Is My Method, Fall 2004
Avant-Garde Party article from Electronic Musician magazine, September 2004
Interview with Jedd Beaudoin @ Sea Of Tranquility, June 2004

Miscellaneous quotes from David Torn, Reeves Gabrels, and Mike Keneally
Sea Of Tranquility
Splendid Magazine
David Torn in Guitar Player Magazine, May 2004
Tape Op Magazine #38
David Torn interview @ Bias-Inc
Sea of Tranquility's Best Albums of 2004
Ink 19
Expose' Magazine #29 (April 2004)


Interview with Rich Pike for None For You Dear, October 2000

20th Century Guitar Magazine (February 2001)
Expose' Magazine #20 (October 2000)
Alternative Press Magazine #146 (September 2000)
Iowa City Press-Citizen (June 22, 2000)
United Nations FAO CASA Gazette (June 2000)
MOJO Magazine #78 (May 2000)
Outburn Magazine #12 (Summer 2000)
Guitar Nine Records (April/May 2000 edition)
Fuse Online
Eclectic Earwig Reviews


Guitar Player Magazine (December 1996)


This Is My Method is an independent 'zine, edited and compiled by musician Mike Corwin, which spotlights various individuals in music, the visual arts, and numerous other realms of expression. I was very happy to conduct an interview with Mike for the publication, and he's given me permission to host the article in its entirety.

Click here to read the This Is My Method interview.

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My first full-page article in the national media comes courtesy of Electronic Musician magazine. "Avant-Garde Party" covers the recording, mixing, and mastering of Normalized, and is archived online here.

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My second long-form interview was conducted by Jedd Beaudoin for the Sea Of Tranquility website. Jedd asks some very fine questions regarding the two albums (and the differences between them), looping, my musical upbringing, and various conceptual ideas. Read the intro below, and the full interview here.

Andre LaFosse's second outing Normalized asks the question "Can a musician be a DJ?" and then answers with a resounding "yes." While Normalized uses many sounds that listeners will typically identify as samples or synthesizers, the fact is that the Calfornia-based guitarist performed all parts with a guitar. Live.

Along with his first outing, Disruption Theory, Normalized displays the depths of LaFosse's genius and explains once more why he's grown a reputation within the guitar community as a fresh voice that deserves wider acclaim.

If you've not yet hard Normalized or Disruption Theory you owe it to yourself to do so today. Artists with LaFosse's impact are rare, unique, and deserve to be heard.

(Read the full interview here.)

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I'm deeply flattered and grateful to be able to offer these quotes from the last year, from some of my favorite musicians around:

"Andre LaFosse is truly one of my favorite musicians; his deeply signaturised music is simultaneously both 'statement' & 'commentary', and signals a beautifully clear & concise call to the bright future of an instrument previously known as 'guitar'. HA!"
(david torn / splattercell, guitarist/looper/producer/remixer/sonic visionary, 2003)

"Andre LaFosse is a really creative guitarist/composer people should be checking out."
(Mike Keneally, solo artist and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist for Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, and others)

"When I resurface after a long winter's hibernation this is exactly what any smarter than average bear needs to take his mind off the state of his personal grooming. Proof positive that there is hope amongst the mouskateer ra ra Pat Boone with an exposed nipple bubble gum bathwater music. And just be thankful that he only has the factory spec number of limbs."
(Reeves Gabrels, solo artist and guitarist/producer/songwriter for David Bowie, The Cure, Public Enemy, and many others)

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Along with his interview, Jedd Beaudoin also contributes this album review for Sea of Tranquility...

Every art form in every age has had its geniuses and innovators and in the age of Brave New Guitar the likes of Reeves Gabrels, David Torn and Adrian Belew have moved the instrument forward by leaps and bounds. And, within the last few years, Andre LaFosse has emerged to join them. Like the other players mentioned, LaFosse's playing transcends the instrument as the so-called turntablist guitarist forges new alliances with possibilities previously untapped or unknown during tracks such as "Sensitive Skin," "The Proposition" (which features a bodacious Stevie Wonderlike groove amid the bleeps and bops that give Normalized its distinct personality) and "Dark Amber." (You also can't resist "Interference" and "Beast With Two Backs")

Normalized may not be your standard prog fare as it mixes funk, hip-hop and elements of electronic music, but it is more than progressive in spirit as LaFosse breaks down barrier after barrier, leaving few sonic stones unturned on this all-live, all guitar outing. It's not a matter of getting used to the music here, though, instead it's more a matter of finding a way to articulate the sensations you're left with after tracking through Normalized.

At the moment LaFosse has only released two CDs, this and Disruption Theory, which covers a slightly different terrain, and in some ways the lack of LaFosse material out there in the world is sad because an artist such as Andre LaFosse deserves to be heard and heard loud. Why? He may now be normalized; he's far from ordinary.

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Splendid Magazine is a music review website covering everything from home-burned CD-Rs to major label albums. Justin Kownacki reviews Normalized for the April 6, 2004 edition. (Not sure what he's referring to as "the same five guitar loops" comment, as every live track uses a completely new set of sounds and loops performed live into the Echoplex, but that's a minor quibble.)

Boy, I like this album. I can see where it might also give me a migraine, but it's worth the risk. LaFosse has turned the novelty of crafting an entire album from electronic guitar samples into a verifiable work of audio art. This is the kind of music that begs to be remixed endlessly and overlaid with the likes of Guru and The Dilated Peoples, but in truth, Normalized stands uniquely on its own.

LaFosse's best idea may have been the way he structures his songs, remaining experimental even within the framework of a conventional dance track. Every aspect of the disc was created by manipulating the sound of an electric guitar with an Echoplex looper, including the cuts that form the rhythms and the high-end squiggles that rise above. Perhaps most remarkable of all is LaFosse's preference for recording his compositions live -- all but four of the eighteen tracks on Normalized were recorded "live" from the same five guitar loops. The cynic in me believes this is the kind of thing that anyone with a good ear, a decent audio editing program and a lot of patience could have pulled off, but the pragmatist in me says, "This is the guy who did it first." (Well, maybe not first -- I'm sure there's a four-tracker in a bedroom in Peoria who will correct me on that -- but certainly well.)

At eighteen tracks, the concept might seem dangerously close to running its course, but in a glowing testimonial to LaFosse's ability to keep things fresh even with an insanely limited pallet, the novelty in this novelty album never wears off. (Memo: see what LaFosse is capable of with, say, two instruments. Or a fork and a spoon...)

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David Torn makes an extremely gracious and flattering mention in an interview from the May 2004 issue of Guitar Player Magazine, which is quoted here:

"Aside from Tom Morello, most of the current 'guitar heroes' are not doing it for me. I love a good riff, but I want to hear some noise, I want to hear some new harmonic stuff, and I want some freaky technique that is unique to that player. It freaks me out that there isn't more room for expression. There is in the underground, and players like Raoul Bjorkenheim, Nels Cline, and Andre LaFosse are all doing amazing things. But in popular music, the guitar has lost its danger."

(Back to reviews index), a major website for the jam community, covers Normalized for their December 2003 edition. The review's by Matt J. Brockett.

If you think you've heard everything a guitar can do, Andre LaFosse would like you to hear something.

LaFosse's second solo record, Normalized is essential listening for any guitar player, if not simply to see the incredible untapped sonic capabilities of an instrument that was previously thought by some to have been played every way possible. True, LaFosse does have the help of the Echoplex Digital Pro and LoopIV software, but this can fairly readily be compared to the modern guitarist's use of effects pedals and various other sound manipulating gadgets.

The difference with LaFosse is the concept that he calls "Turntablist Guitar," which is best described in his own words. "I can drop tiny fragments of guitar into the loop, I can play the loop backwards, slow the loop down, chop the loops up... and I can do this all live, as I'm playing. It's like my guitar is the record, and the Echoplex is the turntable and mixer. Just like a turntablist uses their technique to get sounds that are far beyond what's on the original record, I can come up with noises and rhythms that would be impossible to play on just an unlooped guitar."

Truly a pioneer of the Echoplex as an instrument, his confidence in his mastery is proven by the fact that 14 of the 18 tracks on the album are live Echoplex solos. While most artists relish the fact that "studio" albums or commercial releases can be polished and mixed until they are just right, LaFosse decided to show his guitar and Echoplex capabilities in their rawest form.

The result is somewhere between Aphex Twin, Art of Noise, Squarepusher, and some kid making beats on his computer late night in Mom's basement, except it's all guitar -- manipulated guitar, yes, but guitar nonetheless. That's the part you have to keep reminding yourself of while listening to Normalized, that and the fact that your CD isn't skipping, even though sometimes you would bet the farm that it is. Although the album is surely not for everyone, it definitely is for anyone who enjoys experimental music, or who enjoys hearing a musician brave enough to laugh in the face of convention and create a truly original musical voice. We're talking over an hour of a full-on collision of rock, drum & bass, hip hop, pop, jazz and who knows what else, all told through the electric guitar via Echoplex.

In an odd twist, the title track of this experimental and electronic sounding album is a single solo unlooped twangy guitar piece, hauntingly different from the rest of album. It is a fitting homage to the most basic element of LaFosse's music: his guitar.

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Tape Op Magazine, one of the finest music-related publications on Earth, reviews the album in issue #38, Nov./Dec. 2003:

Andre calls his guitar technique "turntablist guitar" - using loops, multitracking and bare hands to coax a variety of rhythms and sounds out of the guitar. The results are rhythmic, grooving pieces with fuzzy guitar melodies on top. A digital Echoplex provides the backbone loops of much of this CD, and multitracking and/or editing and cleanup were performed in a computer. A cool experiment that luckily turns out to be musical and interesting.

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A review from (aka the European Jam Consortium) provides this in-depth assessment of Normalized as it relates to looping in general and the jamband world in particular, penned by Jibbork Takayama.

The technology of "looping" (the act of recording sound into an electronic device, which then repeats it ad infinitum) in the pop music domain pretty much starts with guitar virtuoso/electronic poineer Les Paul. Les Paul's numerous technological advances, looping has become an integral composition methodology in nearly all of todays popular music culture. Nearly every beat you hear is looped from some sound source or another... and nearly every groove record from the 1980's was looped from classic James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield's "Funky Drummer" funk out. But the technology of looping goes back to the invention of electricity, and more importantly electronic music.

In the mid 1960s Northern California composer Terry Riley used to multiple Revox tape recorders to create extended improvisations, which looped in and around themselves. More specifically, Riley's looping process was to improvise keyboard, saxophone or voice tracks into a microphone which fed the sounds into a 2 track reel-to-reel tape machine, which looped itself around and around. The sound from the first tape machine was then fed to a second reel-to-reel machine which recorded the sound from the first tape machine then looped it. Riley's set up endlessly passed the sound from the original source (Terry) to Loop 1 to Loop 2 which would then be fed to loudspeakers which Terry would improvise to. Essentially feeding it all back into itself, very much like serpent eating its own tail until it eats the mouth that's eating it.

Jump to the early 1970's, English pop superstar Brian Eno and the king of King Crimson, Robert Fripp experiment wildly with tape loops during the recording of their collaborative albums "Discreet Music" and "Evening Star" and "No Pussyfooting." Fripp eventually developed his own looping system (Frippertronics) which he employed exquisitely (in one form or another) with King Crimson and in his own solo performances to this day.

With the rise of turntablism, looping took another form. Instead of recording sounds to magnetic tape, the skilled turntablist would create a new compositon by beat matching short breakbeat sections from vintage funk vinyl. The process is usually something like this: Play turntable number one - turntable two is already set to start at the beginning of the breakbeat... at the end of the breakbeat on deck one... start deck two then silently roll deck one back to the start point of the breakbeat... switch back to deck one when deck two is done with the break beat... lather rinse repeat.

Looping has slowly entered the jamsphere in numerous forms, most notably Trey Anastasio's "funk siren" from the late 90s shows. Additionally, one man band Keller Williams has made entire career out of epic loop performances. Art punk geniuses Radiohead also employ real time sampling/looping during their performances... often concluding their performances with loops of "Everything In Its Right Place" still playing to cheering crowds long after they've left the building.

Los Angeles based solo loop artist Andre LaFosse takes all of this technobabble and pushes it even further into the future on his latest recording "Normalized". It's 73 minutes are filled to the bursting point with turntablist guitar excursions that fall more in the realm of drum 'n bass than the layered folk groovyness of Keller. One comparative analogy may be... Keller is to the Big Wu as Andre is to The Disco Biscuits. In fact Andre's playing is a bit more avant-garde then anything the Biscuits may offer, but they both do traverse similar areas of technodelica.

Superbly recorded live-in-the-studio with no overdubs (except for a handful of tracks) and no guitar synthesizers, the 18 tracks on "Normalized" show Andre's dazzling mastery of his instrument and more importantly his ability to execute densely packed improvisations that rock your booty as well as blow your mind. Each and every pick scrape, string scratch, harmonic squalk and muted flurry morphs into a giant recombinant electronic percussion orchestra. Pushing available technology its limits, Andre's real-time reverse loop tracking creates a shape-shifting tapestry of imaginary hi-hats, cymbal swooshes, Squarepusher-inspired snare drum feedbacks anchored by low down techno bass dropouts, and some of the weirdest funk sirens this side of Vermont.

"Hammerhead"'s basic loop is approximately 2 seconds long... 14 seconds and 6 repeats into the track, an additional 6 layers have been added to the original loop, while the original has been flipped around backwards. 0 to 420 in 14 seconds and already transmorphed from dancefloor throwdown to intergalactic space dust dub n bass. The end result is somewhat similar to turntablist beat matching... jumping from one short break to another (this time backwards or slowed down or all scratched up) all done in real time. As if to prove to us that this ain't no joke or studio trickery, Andre' includes two versions of the track "Solitaire," recorded at different tempos, in different keys. Still, the outcome of each is singularly dazzling but when listened to in succession they individually reveal the "from here to there" mastery that Andre LaFosse posseses.

All of this leaves me to the next group of questions... Where has this guy been hiding? How come he's not in the late night tent at the summer jam festivals? And with music as creative as this, one can only wonder what Andre's 'in concert light show' is like. Wicki wicki wicki wicki.

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Guitarist - loopist - producer - sonic visionary David Torn makes a couple of very generous comments regarding my work in this 2003 interview for BIAS software.

Music writer Jedd Beaudoin names Normalized one of his "Best of 2003" CDs at progressive music website Sea of Tranquility - click here for the full list. (Also making the list is the Salve EP by Yogi, which contains a remix of mine.)

A mixed-bag assessment from progressive music magazine Expose, issue #29 (April 2004), by Michael Ezzo...

I know little about Mr. LaFosse oter than that I reviewed one of his CDs before, and happen to notice two names - Miroslav Tadic, and David Torn - in the credits. These names are not irrelevant as reference points, and provide an accurate context in which to assess LaFosse's work. Performed soloely on electric guitar, the 18 instrumental tracks embrace a formula whereby LaFosse sets up rhythmic patterns around which are woven soloistic melodies and foreign textural inventions. He tends to favor an almost funky groove feel, with plenty of distortion and Hendrix-like energy. Particularly striking is how LaFosse creates a sonic bed that suggests a bass or drummer, despite their absence. The idea is an interesting one, and hasn't been approached by many other people. It certainly catches the attention when you realize that everything is being accomplished by guitar, recorded live-on-the-spot. Early on my surprise was piqued, wondering how he accomplished this without lots of sound effects. But after a while the domination by this single instrument tends to isolate a listner who isn't a fervent electric guitar fan. Thus about half-way through I began to yearn for some vairety in the textural palette, or some way to utilize the techniques in a way that transcends a simple performance, to serve a higher concept. Someone like Eno could create a context into which the obvious talents of LaFosse could flourish more fruitfully, I think. Failing that, Normalized will appreal mainly to devoted guitar enthusiasts.

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An alternately sweet and sour assessment from Ink 19 muso Van Sias:

Hey, wait a minute. This doesn't sound like Tom Morello!

Andre LaFosse refers to his musical style as "Turntable Guitar," so when I heard that, I automatically thought of the ex-Rage Against the Machine and current Audioslave guitarist who it seems can make any kind of sound with a six-string.

But while Morello blends rock and hip-hop, LaFosse -- as evidenced on his second disc, Normalized -- wields his ax like a DJ manning the wheels of steel at your neighborhood techno club, which, I have to say, isn't always a good thing here.

LaFosse's style is to take a guitar, his own ability and a digital looper to create these sounds. And while technically amazing -- getting behind the fact that someone is doing so much of this with a guitar is something else -- I feel that there are some holes in the disc music-wise, a lot of which can be traced to the love affair he has with electronic looping.

Remember waaay back in the day when the needle on your old Fisher Price record player would get stuck on your Sesame Street album, and "C Is for Cookie" would keep repeating? That wasn't a fun experience. Or now, when a CD gets stuck. That sucks, right? I can handle it in small doses, but too much of it gets pretty irritating.

Some tracks do have more of an organic feel, though, which I consider the stronger songs. "Deject" has bluesy riffs layered over the glitch-work. The title track, "Normalized," sounds pretty... normal, with stellar guitar work shining through.

I do give credit to LaFosse for being a true artist; his ability to arrange using unconventional means can be likened to that of musical revolutionaries like Frank Zappa or Miles Davis.

And I'll admit: I would check LaFosse out live to see how he makes this all come together. Hopefully, I'd be able to make it through the show.

And I'll admit: I would check LaFosse out live to see how he makes this all come together. Hopefully, I'd be able to make it through the show.

(See? Wasn't that irritating?)

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Disruption Theory is reviewed by Robert Silverstein in the February 2001 issue of 20th Century Guitar Magazine, an apparently non-Y2K compliant journal covering all things guitaristic.

A spectacular collision of manifold musical thoughts and patterns, Disruption Theory introduces the talents of L.A.-based guitarist Andre LaFosse. Laced with a complex pattern of rock-solid drum and bass rhythms, Disruption Theory integrates an expansive spectrum of guitar sounds and visions drawing from jazz, rock, avant-garde, ambient and World Beat. With its myriad maze of sinewy jungle rhythms and otherworldly musical shadings, Disruption Theory is also very much a guitar album. In fact, LaFosse goes to great lengths to point out that all sounds on the album, aside from drum programming and the occasional Mellotron, are all created with an electric guitar. To call Disruption Theory a futuristic album would be an understatement. Using electric guitars to chart an exploratory trek into the musical twilight zone, LaFosse breaks down musical borders, and in doing so he has come up with a high-tech instrumental guitar album that is clearly daring and certainly different.

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Expose' Magazine, a journal oriented toward progressive music and distributed worldwide, reviews Disruption Theory in issue #20 (October 2000). The write-up is by Mike Ezzo.

Here is a guitarist whose playing has an assuredly original kind of American twang to it. With the exception of some drum machine work, all the sounds Andre LaFosse uses to produce his music are made by guitar. If the thought of drum machine turns you off however read on anyway: it actually fits right into his scheme of music making and the results are formiddible. Besides, the way the machine is employed is such that no human could ever perform the patterns he uses. LaFosse gives you six lengthy instrumental portraits on this CD, and does a fine job of imprinting his own musical personality, rather than skipping around to various odd styles. His six-stringer is pumped up with energy, creating a firestorm of pyrotechnics and burning sounds, but with a sensitivity to weirdness and experimentation where need be. The relentless surge and brisk pace of most of these tunes are such that only a drum machine could ever keep up. I like how he settles into muscular grooves with a twisted sort of bending and slurring of tones, at times bathed in distortion, at others emulating a softer, Chapman Stick texture. You may notice a dearth of name-dropping in this review and that is because I can't really compare LaFosse to anyone I know of. Perhaps Hendrix could be pointed to but only as an iconic influence. He seems to have roots in blues, jazz, 70's rock and probably a bit of classical and experimental music as well. (Classical guitar training is likely). And he utilizes it all to create an album that is usually made by people who can only capture "atmospheres" (since they can't play guitar well). "Chops" are often referred to disparagingly by people who work in experimental idioms, but Disruption Theory reveals the difference it makes when a player knows what he is doing. Here is one that deserves the title "unique."

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The very first Andre LaFosse interview appears in the October 2000 edition of None For You Dear. This very in-depth talk with NFYD founder Richard Pike covers a wide range of topics related to Disruption Theory, as well as some of my other activities (both ridiculous and sublime) from the last several years. Below you can read Richard Pike's introduction to the interview; you can read the interview itself here.

Working in various capacities with guitar legend Steve Vai for several years now, my PO box is often crammed full of CDs and tapes from aspiring guitarists from all around the world, eager to display their talents and share their music. Ranging from fully produced CDs rivaling major releases to homemade cassettes with handwritten labels, some are stunningly good, and of course many are still early in their development and a little before their time. In more than five years, exactly one such recording has made me stop whatever I was doing and just stare in awe and disbelief at my speakers, simply absorbing its sounds and shapes as they tumble forward, and loving every minute of it, until the end of the last song.

That record was Andre LaFosse's Disruption Theory. Fearlessly colorful and inventive, it stirs together elements of rock, jazz, electronica and jungle rhythms into a thoroughly listenable package that gets more interesting with every new listen. When I found out that every sound on the disc, other than the rhythm programming and a sole Mellotron sample, was created on an electric guitar, and indeed that every sound was created by Andre alone, I was again awestruck. I'd just been handed one of the greatest guitar records I've ever heard, and it's recorded by someone in his 20s, living right here in Los Angeles.

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to Andre LaFosse.

Remember the name. Buy his record. Thank me later.

(Read the interview)

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The most in-depth review of Disruption Theory to date, this write-up comes from Alternative Press Magazine #146 (September 2000), and is written by Bill Tilland. The references to "myriad MIDI voices" are a bit misleading, as there's absolutely no guitar synth on the album (and aside from some bass sounds and the oft-mentioned Mellotron patch, no synth period), but I definitely take the assumption of prominent non-guitar elements as a compliment.

Using every effects processor and MIDI voice known to man, plus some very crisp, techno-derived drum programming, Andre LaFosse conducts an advanced clinic in electric guitar technique and studio technology on Disruption Theory. And since he also has an abundance of chops and taste, what might have been shallow studio self-indulgence turns out to be a substantial and satisfying experience. Most of the six pieces adopt recognizable styles, from a supercharged bent-note blues with a strong Hendrix flavor, to boogie, swamp country and one heavily MIDI'd piece of Tangerine Dream-like space rock.

LaFosse's pieces are primarily riff-oriented; actual hummable melodies are scarce. But much can be done with a good riff, and LaFosse moves back and forth between three or four foreground/background riffs in each piece, using variations of the verse-bridge-chorus format, sounding like a supergroup with three flash guitarists -- one playing nasty fuzz licks, another working the whammy bar, a third soaring like Carlos Santana's musical double. On the title track, LaFosse drop-kicks his restraint and does the rock-star/guitar-god thing, running up and down the fretboard and just flat-out wailing. And he's damn good at that, too. For electric guitar enthusiasts everywhere, this one's essential.

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This particular review is unofficially subtitled "You Can Go Home Again": it comes from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, one of the main daily papers in my home town. A recent installment of the paper's entertainment column (in the Thursday, June 22, 2000 edition) focused on local CD releases, and though it's been a while since I was "local" to Iowa City, I seem to rank as a enough of a native to have earned coverage. The review is by Jim Musser.

The 25-year-old son of UI School of Music's Leopold LaFosse, Andre is a West High grad who studied English and communications for two years at St. Paul's Macalester College before heading out to the California Institute of the Arts to focus on music composition and guitar playing.

The six pieces on Disruption Theory run from seven to ten minutes each and, except for the programmed rhythm sections (and one Mellotron sample on the title cut), every sound you hear on this high-energy effort hails from LaFosse's otherworldly electric guitar.

Bits of jazz/rock fusion, electronica, industrial and techno leap in and out of the picture, but it's muscular, roaring, high-tech wizardry with a distinct rock flair which dominates the overall sound. Not for every taste, to be sure, but there's a furious creativity and inventiveness at work here which allows LaFosse to more than hold his own with the usualGuitar Player magazine ax-hero.

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Here's the undisputed current champion in both the "Most Obscure Print Media Publication" and "Most Prosaic Choice of Words" categories: A review from the June 2000 issue of the United Nations FAO CASA Gazette(!), out of Rome, Italy. In the words of Stavros Moschopoulos, who wrote the review:

"FAO CASA is a small format, general interest, monthly magazine published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations COOP Office, Rome, Italy (except August and January). The magazine is distributed free to the over 3000 employees at the FAO Headquarters and also shipped to all the FAO/UN System Offices (eg, Paris; Geneva; New York-UN; Washington, DC, Santiago, Chile; Bangkok, Thailand etc)."

Andre LaFosse is an extremely accomplished electric guitarist. His debut recording, Disruption Theory, is a great instrumental release full of experienced styles and masterful handling. The sound is versatile, composite and pyrotechnic. This is no junior guitar stuff but the result of a expansive mind full of creative energy and electronic gyrations [! - ed.]. A post-modern modernity, a shining star in a sea full of wanna-be's.

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From the "short but sweet" department comes this review from the May 2000 issue of MOJO magazine, from their Homebrew column (which focuses on self-released albums). It's written by Joe Cushley.

Andre LaFosse is an astonishing guitarist of a very different ilk. On Disruption Theory he lets fly with some incredibly fast, weird and funky playing over drum'n'bass backing tracks. Fripp and Zappa, step aside.

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Here's a review from Outburn #12 (Summer 2000). Outburn is an independent magazine published three times a year, focusing on (in the publication's own words) "subversive and post-alternative music." Sounds good to me... This review was written by Mike Learned.

When one thinks of a guitar album, one thinks of characters like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani jamming away, trying to show prowess and one-ups-manship with the abiliy to play more notes than the other guy. None of these come close to describing what is heard here. Six tracks making up a full-length album with drum and percussion backgrounds, and the rest is purely guitar created. Disruption Theory is one of the best guitar albums I've ever heard, because it was written as an album. This is not a collection of intros to songs wrapped around a five to ten minute solo -- this is a written album, made with movements, meter, arrangement, and an idea in mind. Also, LaFosse obviously spends a lot of time creating the different guitar based sounds, some of which you could easily mistake for other instruments. His choices of styles and selections of tones and content herald from house, to drum & bass, to some forms of jazz, and things one can expect to hear on any number of Anime soundtracks.

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This feature is by way of Guitar Nine Records, a web site based around recordings that prominently feature... you guessed it... guitar playing. The site runs a bi-monthly column called "The Undiscovered," which features unsigned, unknown, or otherwise obscure artists; I was one of the players selected for the April/May 2000 edition. As you might expect, the write-up contains a large dose of "shop talk;" my apologies to the non-guitarists out there.

I particularly got a kick out of the site layout for this article; the section places artists two-to-a-page, and I think the unofficial title for this one around the Guitar Nine office must have been "Goateed LA guitarists with perplexed expressions."

Straddling genres including jungle, experimental, rock and progressive, California guitarist Andre LaFosse has released Disruption Theory, which features six tracks of predominantly long-form compositions and improvisations. Selections such as "In Time" and "Signify" involve principles of classical right-hand guitar technique translated to an electric guitar, to produce contrapuntal lines and muting that let the instrument speak in a very precise and cleanly articulated manner. Disruption Theory's title track offers improvised 16th-notes over a modulating 8-bar progression at 180 BPM, as well as a "looping solo" recorded live in one pass with an Oberheim Echoplex. LaFosse pushes the envelope on his debut CD, drawing on many styles to deliver a signature sound.

Andre's interest in the guitar came about as a result of his experiments with 4-track recording and sequencing in his early teens. Guitar quickly became his primary focus, and he enrolled in the Multi-Focus Guitar program at CalArts in 1994, with six years of playing under his belt. In addition to the guitaristic elements in the curriculum, Andre studied styles and genres such as North Indian/Hindustani, European Classical, various strains of jazz, Javanese gamelan and electronic music. He graduated from CalArts in 1997 with a BFA in guitar performance.

LaFosse's goals are to establish himself in a number of musical areas. His role models include Brian Eno, Bill Laswell and Daniel Lanois -- people who do work in a wide range of roles relating to the recording and performance of music that draws on many different styles. His short term objectives include establishing a clientele of music students and producing other artists.

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In a rather more concise vein is this assessment from Fuse Online, a web site devoted primarily to fusion and progressive music. The review comes to us courtesy of David Dorkin.

Guitarist Andre LaFosse's debut cd should appeal to fans of Zappa/Mike Keneally and more generally, fans of interesting mixes of guitar, progressive music and even electronica. The title track at almost 11 minutes runs the gamut and is an interesting collage of sounds.

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And now, a trip in the way-back machine: here's an article from the December 1996 issue of Guitar Player magazine, wherein I was featured as "Demo of the Month" in the publication's (unfortunately now defunct) "Spotlight" column, which was dedicated to covering new and unknown talent.
A student of Miroslav Tadic at California Institute of the Arts, 21-year-old Andre LaFosse calls to mind David Torn with gurgling distortion, exotic scales and quarter-tone whammy intrigue. But Andre's just as capable of shredding like Satch and Vernon Reid or tapping and arpeggiating like Vai. In a weird middle ground between his rocker heroes and his new artier idols -- Fripp, Holdsworth, Torn -- LaFosse finds refreshing ways to reinvent both influences. He's also a careful, compelling composer who melds tabla patterns, odd-time fusion rhythms and heavenly washes into multi-layered pieces; the oddly-titled "The Cysts of Love" contains five movements, including the languid, Santana-meets-Holdsworth-tinged "Vestiges of Decrepitude."

LaFosse first picked up the guitar at age 14 in an attempt to embellish his synth-based home 4-tracks with "ominous, atmospheric" power chords. "Fortunately, something went horribly wrong, and since then the guitar has been my primary focus," he writes, listing a Steinberger GM4T guitar, Mesa and Rockman amps, and an Oberheim Echoplex looper as his chief tools. With one year left before he gets his BFA in CalArts' "Multi-Focus" guitar program, Andre looks forward to "finding like-minded musicians on the West Coast and probably returning to CalArts for a master's degree."

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A few things I should mention about this particular review:

I was (and still very much am) extremely flattered at being featured in Guitar Player. However, I must take exception to their description of my alleged Vai-like tapping abilities -- not because I'm overly modest, but because there wasn't a single note of tapping on either of the two songs I sent to the magazine (nor, for that matter, on any song I've done since about 1994).

Aside from its uncanny tapping facsimiles, the music I sent Guitar Player in the summer of 1996 was very different from the material on my full-length album. What that means is that you shouldn't read this review, go order one of my albums, and then wonder where the "tabla patterns, odd-time fusion rhythms and heavenly washes" are. The material on my commercial CDs is substantially different from what the magazine heard back in 1996.

Perhaps most importantly, I'm delighted to have had an original song title like "The Cysts of Love" name-checked in a nationwide publication.
Finally: My first bad review!

Actually, this write-up contains quite a bit of highly complementary commentary, as you'll see. Nevertheless, it's the first review for Disruption Theory that's essentially unfavorable (and ironically, it's also the longest one to date). It comes from Eclectic Earwig Reviews, a web site devoted principally to jazz, fusion, prog-rock, and other such genres. It's written by Michael Askounes, who is credited on the EER site as "a mainstreamish/progressive" reviewer, which says a lot about his reaction to the album.

Read Michael's review directly below, and my own reply to his comments on the right-hand column:

Take one part Joe Satriani, one part frantically programmed percussion, and throw in a dash of Mellotron and you've pretty much got yourself Andre LaFosse's latest genre-busting CD, Disruption Theory. This guitar-heavy release is not much more than a showcase for LaFosse's mastery over the electric guitar, with Andre seemingly squeezing every texture out of the beast as he possibly can (or just randomly going through his pedal board's factory-defined patches - I'm really not sure which). The guitar playing on Disruption Theory is very well done indeed, but the major hurdle which LaFosse must overcome is to keep this 60 minute drum machine/guitar showcase from getting tedious. The final result of this struggle is a mixed one: there are flashes of brilliance in some of LaFosse' s rhythmic guitar work, but unfortunately during some of these 10 minute tracks, tedium rears its ugly head from time to time as well.

The percussion tracks laid down by LaFosse to serve as a backdrop to his guitar antics seem to be influenced by house or jungle music - you could almost envision some of these complex and catchy rhythms being blasted out of a D.J.'s sound system at a sweaty downtown dance club. However, the electronica ends there as every other sound on the CD (with the exception of a Mellotron sample on the title cut) emanates from LaFosse's electric guitar. LaFosse really does show off a dazzling array of different sounds out of the guitar, ranging from down and dirty distorted grooves to smooth jazzy riffs to more airy and ambient background sounds. Andre switches between standard guitar sounds and more synthesized effects effortlessly, and truly shows a mastery of his instrument.

While technically this is a very good guitar album, it does begin to lose its appeal after about 30 minutes of listening. There just isn't enough variety to keep things interesting for very long, and the warp speed electronic percussion grated on my nerves after a short period of time. Also, LaFosse seems to choose guitar sounds at random, and while the wide array of textures is impressive, it's not always appropriate for the songs. The title track "Disruption Theory" is a good example of this, with LaFosse seemingly simply trying every bank available to him on his effects box without much regard for the composition itself.

That's not to say that Disruption Theory is a poor album - there is a lot of interesting guitar work here, and the percussion elements are interesting at least for a few songs. However, Disruption Theory seems to suffer from its lack of distinctiveness - all the songs really begin to meld into one another, and are deficient in their uniqueness. Great guitar work does not automatically equal a great album, and Disruption Theory is a case in point. Hopefully in the future, the very talented LaFosse will team up with some other humans to create some more eclectic and engaging music, but he falls a bit short of the mark with Disruption Theory.

Andre replies:
I've noticed that people from the more "playerly" side of things (those generally into fusion, prog-rock, jazz, etc.) tend to be a bit lukewarm when it comes to Disruption Theory. You can see this in some of the other reviews on this page, and I've also seen it in talking to some people from such a background. It's usually listeners from a more musically "sophisticated" realm who criticize the album for being big on impressive playing and low on discernible substance (which is interesting, since progressive music itself is so often criticized for the very same thing).

I can understand why this is the case, since a very big part of Disruption Theory is about deconstructing and fragmenting standard notions of form and structure. That sort of approach is much more accepted fare in alternative or electronic music circles than in genres like prog-rock or fusion. (Once again, the reviews on this page are a good example of these differing points of view.)

It's also not surprising that the presence of programmed drums is a problem for this reviewer, since electronic beats tend to be a big issue in progressive or fusion circles (to say nothing of jazz), where there's a bigger emphasis on instrumental performance and interplay. (The Expose' review, for example, almost implied that it was a good album in spite of the electronic rhythms). The suggestion that I use live players instead of programming seems to me to be further evidence of this mentality; it's safe to say this fellow doesn't have much Photek in his CD collection. It's also safe to say that his suggestion rather misses the point of the album.

The comments regarding the use of guitar sounds are even more puzzling. The title track is probably the most sonically conservative one on the entire album, so his remark that it's a good example of how the choice of sounds is inappropriate to the needs of the songs is a real head-scratcher. He also mentions on more than one occasion the allegedly "random" nature of my choice of guitar sounds, claiming he can't figure out whether or not I was just sitting there scrolling through presets on a pedalboard.

One of the keys to understanding this record is to approach it as a juxtaposition between the stylistic language of the electric guitar and post-DJ ideas about organizing sound. The guitar sounds weren't tacked onto the compositions after they were written; they were integral elements of the compositions themselves, frequently replacing melody and harmony as the building blocks of the music. To talk about the guitar sounds being inappropriate for the songs, while at the same time admitting to not being able to tell if the sounds were selected randomly in the first place, makes me wonder if the reviewer isn't admitting more than he may realize.

In any event, I certainly appreciate Michael's taking the time to listen to and review the recording, and I'm glad he hears some potential in what I'm doing. For those interested, you can check out Michael's profile and favorite albums (you'll need to scroll down the page a short distance), as well as a photo of the man himself... which seems to accurately capture his reaction to my music!

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