“String Theory” – Minor 7th Magazine

Roland Chadwick & Nick Linnik, “String Theory,” 2013.

Roland Chadwick and Nick Linnik’s sonorous collaboration “String Theory” is nothing short of a triumph in acoustic guitar music.

Australian born Chadwick is an internationally renowned recording artist, composer, and performer. He has performed with such diverse artists as Jethro Tull, Sir George Martin, Steve Vai, and Michel Legrand.

Still in his teens, Linnik is a prodigious talent from Russia, who at the time of recording studied at the Centre for Young Musicians in London.

Together the two generate intense, virtuosic, performances which beckon for repeated listens. Their album contains an eclectic repertoire of carefully crafted originals mixed with interesting interpretations of jazz and pop standards. The opening anthem, a joyous reading of “My Favorite Things,” features dramatic rhythmic playing and incendiary soloing by both guitarists. On “Autumn Leaves” the two create intricate counterpoints and vertical harmonies reminiscent of the seminal collaborations of Warren Marsh and Lee Konitz. The bluesy take on the Bill Withers classic “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” captures the essence and urgency of the original without sounding disingenuous or parodic. A pensive reading of the Luis Bonfa’s classic “Black Orpheus” contains lush reflective improvisations flanked by delicate chord sequences. They absolutely nail Al di Meola’s “Mediterranean Sun Dance” reinventing the acoustic standard by adding their own personal stamps to the celebrated composition. Their originals are also noteworthy from the introspective “Morning Song,” to the playful “Zoup di G,” and the pentatonic based fusion of “Futatsu.”

Chadwick has an amazing command of his instrument and his articulate improvisations are nothing short of mesmerizing. Linnik is also a formidable musician, matching his mentor’s virtuosity throughout the recording. However, the strength of this recording lies in the fact that the two avoid regressing to mere fret board gymnastics and never lose focus of the compositional integrity of each piece. “String Theory” is an exceptional offering by two instrumentalists who are performing at the absolute apex of virtuosity and musicality.

This should be required listening for all fans of contemporary acoustic music.

© James Scott – Minor 7th Magazine