Nantais by adoption, the Australian Will Guthrie is a discreet star of the international scene of free, experimental and improvised music; over the past fifteen years, he has developed an open and personal approach to drums and percussion, skillfully blurring the lines between his brilliant jazz upbringing, his passion for traditional musics, and his inexhaustible interest in experimental and noise creation, with a pronounced taste for a physical and raw approach to sound.
With thousands of performances and some fifty albums to his credit, the Australian regularly dispenses his vibratory art solo or alongside the best of improvisation; From Oren Ambarchi to Roscoe Mitchell via Jérôme Noetinger, Anthony Pateras, David Maranha, Ava Mendoza, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Keith Rowe or even Mark Fell. In recent months Guthrie has performed with Tunisian singer Ghassen Chiba, toured as part of “All Around”, a performance with Danish dancer choreographer Mette Ingvarsten and founded the Ensemble Nist-Nah, a gamelan orchestra, in the company of eight other percussionists, out of which Black Truffle published an album, with a second on the way in 2022.
He also found the time to put in shape a second volume of “People Pleaser”, a discographic act between an autographical assessment, the parenthesis and the musical UFO. A singular exercise in Guthrie's discography, “People Pleaser”, a series initiated in 2017, sees the Australian partially put down his drumsticks and wear a producer cap for a result offering a resolutely singular perspective of / on his work with a very personal dimension. On the first volume, with a cover signed Stephen O'Malley sets the tone by diverting the chamaré Warhol influenced visual of the album “Unit Structures” by Cecil Taylor. The portrait of the free jazz pianist has been replaced by passport photos of Guthrie. The result is a diversion into a fairly “Pop” aesthetic whose musical content works in a fairly similar way. Four years later, the cover art's undertones are slightly darker and Guthrie hasn't aged a bit on his new passport photo.
The twelve tracks of this second “People Pleaser” combine and arrange field recordings, heady loops, twists, musical quotes stuck on bedside records, recorded moments captured during travels, ghosty voices from low-fi lands, a police interview tape and imagined exotic sounds ... Guthrie could walk us for hours on his hard drive like looking at a photo album but he chose to build pieces based on this very personal sound material, much like a mixtape, with special care given to how sounds articulate, overlap and collide. He thus invites his heroes and his friends to join him in skilfully chiseled and finely edited imaginary jams.
The first to take pleasure in this “People Pleaser” is undoubtedly its author as some of his finds are enjoyably playful; we are there embarked in an addictive sound patchwork at high speed where a Balinese Squarepusher is propelled via a defective cathode ray tube in a temple where the happy marriage of the saxophone and the gong is celebrated before this too short respite is interrupted by a sustained hip hop rhythm. The multiplicity and variety of sources give the whole a very pop format and the way in which Guthrie combines sounds, textures, rhythms and vocal elements quickly takes on a narrative dimension and poses this exercise between hip hop and a very personal plunderphonic, evoking as much J Dilla or RZA as the irreverent inventiveness of People Like Us or Wobbly.
Will Guthrie has never been in as good company as on a solo album, he also lists on the cover the list of friends, heroes, members of his family and countries who inspired him and to whom he pays homage / collage on this new disc; An aesthetic exercise apart in his discography, both infinitely personal and self-centered and resolutely turned towards what animates him, the aptly named “People Pleaser” reveals the music DNA of the Australian and can be listened to on repeat.