Recorded fall 2006, Released September 2007 VHF Records
“Faint at the Loudest Hour” is the astonishing solo debut by guitarist Alexander Turnquist, part of a young generation of guitar players who have taken their incredible virtuosity and turned it into something actually worth listening to. Like James Blackshaw, Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, etc, this could roughly be described as “raga” guitar, with its long, modal compositions and hypnotic overtone play. Unlike most of his peers, Alex employs a variety of extended techniques ala Hans Reichel, grappling the strings with both hands and using a variety of approaches and attacks on both the steel and wood. There’s also a distinct lack of audible “roots” influence here, with Alex sidestepping the Fahey-isms that dominate so much current acoustic guitar music. Along with the 6 & 12 string acoustics, Alex makes subtle use of electronic textures, such as the surprising Fennesz-like dissolve that occurs midway through “amongst a swarm of hummingbirds.” The CD was recorded by Scott Solter (Mountain Goats, Liam Singer, many others) with cinematic depth and detail.
Recorded winter 2006/2007 Released on Kning Disk Spring 2007 "Though it's short at thirty-five minutes, Apneic's contents are substantial enough that the release never feels too short. Two pieces frame a central, twenty-three dronescape: “Idle Nightmare” opens the album with glistening picking and entrancing cycles while “$130” closes it with tolling chimes.
In “Electric Lines,” long flowing streams slowly build in intensity until, at the halfway mark, percussive pings and tolling chords swell in volume, turning the piece into an immense, opaque mass of lulling tones and textures. The piece takes a beautiful left turn with three minutes remaining when acoustic guitar picking supplants the drone, and then abruptly changes character a final time when the guitar morphs into extended vaporous tones" -Ron Schepper for Textura.
Recorded September 2008, Released July 2009 VHF Records
"Second full length from NY based guitarist Turnquist, who defies expectations with a set of hypnotic epics that owe more to classic minimalism than current notions of solo guitar. Forgoing most of the extended techniques of his debut, Turnquist concentrates on laying down a thick blanket of 12 string that sets up persistent loop-like patterns in the music. Simple and lovely strings, piano, and percussion accompaniment provide the melody, carrying most of the movement in the pieces. The palette of sounds and styles here is used with extraordinary control and restraint - the orchestrations are as reductionist as possible, with no cringe-inducing "string drama" or unnecessary virtuosity. The almost monomaniacal tremolo thrum of the guitar dominates the album, but there is a lengthy ambient breakdown that occurs midway through the 18 minute "The REM Cycle - Dream Phase" that is a thing of elliptical and drifting beauty. "As The Twilight Crane" is a bold statement even in the context of the frequent micro-parsing of styles in the sub-underground - there's really not much else out there like it."
Recorded spring of 2010 Released May 2011 VHF Records
Third VHF album from this young New York-based guitarist/composer who continues to forge his own radical style to create a very resonant and enveloping acoustic sound, full of beautiful harmonic overtone interplay, all instruments sustained. Turnquist’s guitar approach revolves around a prodigious right-hand technique and a minimalist slant on composition that separates him from the retro-styling endemic to most current acoustic guitar music. Hallway of Mirrors uses much of the tonal palate from his previous record (As the Twilight Crane Dreams in Color, vhf#118) – dense 12-string finger-picking with vibraphone and piano carrying much of the melody. On Hallway, the pieces are more concise with the added sweep of Christopher Tignor’s elegant violin punctuating Turnquist’s harmonics-laden forward motion and Matthew O’Koren’s immaculate vibraphone (played with both mallets and bow). The additional instrumentation, inspired in part by Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians,” provides an added focus in the music, signifying each change in tone and timbre. Recorded on analog tape using traditional automatic double tracking stereo mix techniques by engineers Henry Hirsch and Bram Tobey, the sound has an elegant soft focus that highlights Turnquist’s strong and sharp performance. The centerpiece of the album, the 16 minute “Waiting at the Departure Gate,” makes a sly nod in tribute to fellow VHF artist Jack Rose, who all too briefly explored similar techniques on his classic “Black Pearls.” A truly uplifting and emotional listening experience. CD $10, LP (w/download coupon) $13
Limited edition 45 RPM 12” of Alex Turnquist’s not-like-anyone-else guitar stylings, with 5 tracks using only plucked harmonics on his 12 string guitar. Using this limited palate of sounds, Turnquist crafts sparkling waves of notes, employing the minimalist sensibilities that have informed his more recent work (e.g. his 2011 VHF LP/CD release Hallway of Mirrors) on a smaller scale. The harmonics here are frequently struck hard and in complex patterns - this is arguably “new age” but not drifty-ambient, more Reich and Riley than Windham Hill. Sunburned Snowflakes is another intriguing experiment from one of the most forward thinking solo players out there, whose recordings are completely devoid of the Folk/Americana spirit so imbued in the genre. Limited 45RPM on lovely blue and white vinyl. 12" $11
“My fascination with harmonics on an acoustic guitar started as a child, from before I ever started playing I was drawn towards the warm sounds that I heard people play in brief moments. So I've had the idea for a very long time, that idea being to make an entire solo guitar recording just employing my left hand to the harmonics up and down the neck and alternating picking patterns with the right. I feel like it gives the instrument a tonal color that doesn't necessarily feel at first listen like a 12 string acoustic guitar” – Alex Turnquist