Bill Orcutt - Glad Cafe, Glasgow, Fri 1 Nov 2013
The former Harry Pussy guitarist delivers a cracked, highly personal take on the blues
Given the wild electricity that coursed through his 90s noise-rock band, the magnificent Harry Pussy, Bill Orcutt was never going to approach the acoustic guitar gently. Buzzy and short on sustain, Orcutt’s four-string Kay acoustic is the perfect vehicle for his cracked, highly personal take on the blues. There’s no delicate fingerstyle here: Orcutt uses a heavy pick to strike at the strings with a boxer’s precision. Hard, metallic bass notes are the anchor for the spiky extended chords and spidery runs he makes across the treble strings.
Although there are sonic affinities with the great Derek Bailey – the toothsome tone and polytonality – Orcutt is no improviser. Yet for all its technicality, his style is never uptight or mathy. It has the rawness of the great country blues players, combined with the ecstatic fret wizardry of a Zoot Horn Rollo or Sonny Sharrock. Playing material from his current History of Every One project, Orcutt tackles old pop, folk and blues standards with a mixture of tenderness and intensity, cradling the melodies in his rich vibrato, before slashing away at the strings as he howls and moans. These radical translations convey the transformative power of the source material.