The Four Hands Of Greg Malcolm

Greg Malcolm

I first heard about Greg Malcolm, through Steven R. Smith, the man behind Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Thuja and Mirza.

if you’re unfamiliar with these names, you should clicking those links above.

Malcolm is a very unique New Zealand-based guitarist. You can definitely say I’ve never heard someone playing so little, and say so much, sorry for the cliché.

When I first heard about him, I went to read what Allmusic are saying about him, and didn’t find almost anything.

This, of course, just made me more curious because there’s nothing better than unknown musicians that you have to really work hard to find some facts and info about.

It’s like when I was 16 and I had no way to check if Going For The One by Yes is a good album, and it took months for it to come to the record shop.

I can’t believe I belong to the generation who saw the world prior to the internet revolution. Am I so old?

Malcolm is playing three guitars simultaneously.

Yes, but before you’ll make a sarcastic remark, I should say he’s not playing-playing but rather making noise-playing.

One guitar is played by his hands, and two others with his legs, and it’s all sampled to a looper. Actually his entire band fits a suitcase and he’s building his ensemble while playing live.

Malcolm is musically educates, so it seems, and it shows in his playing and improvisation. He brings the influences of John Fahey and Beatles, through Japanese and classical music, and finishes with touches of Albert Ayler and Ornette.

He have some brilliant albums which not all of them I heard, but those who did pass through my ears, stayed for long. Today, I came to tell you about my favorite album of his so far – Leather and Lacy.

Leather And Lacy

13 years ago, I studied bass with a teacher – Joseph.

he tried to hook me up on jazz and it didn’t quite work out. I was still searching for insights about Going For The One, and I was much more into Chris Squire‘s playing then writing bass lines for Giant Steps.

Of course listening to jazz didn’t really last long. The one thing that did last for long was a little tip from him.

He said “don’t try to learn bass lines, learn the lines of sax and trumpets”. He was right. It opened my playing completely, and my hands started working overtime.

Greg Malcolm went onstage of the Wellington Jazz Festival back in 2006, and played a solo set of noise-experimental interpretations to the music of Steve Lacy.

The result: In 2008, the album Leather and Lacy was released. The three guitars works wonderfully; one is in charge of rhythm, the other provides melody and the third one is in charge of ambient, noises, squeaks.

His sound is so different then everything I knew, until I found myself unable to stop listening to him. He interpetates Lacy in an unusual way, hypnotic way – and the great thing – he’s not even playing ‘jazz’ in the album.

He’s an experimental-folky-jazzy musician and all his influences shows. Lacy’s out of context, the saxophone brakes, and the harmony brakes with it.

The rhythmic element attracts me in the album; it has some sort of a slave’s singing with hammer on rocks, a sort of an emotional connection to old blues, without a drop of typical blues. That’s the beauty of this album – it’s a charming and strange mix of so many elements.

Greg Malcolm

Tracking his music is not easy, but he has couple of albums I think worth the trouble of seeking them. His Kraak3 release ‘Swimming In It’, was a sort of a post-Fahey album,  Hung was terrific (especially if you’re a Derek Bailey fan) and Homesick is great as well.

Something tells me that following his entire discography will reveal one of the most genuine and interesting musicians operating today, that besides your intellect satisfaction that will full you, your heart will be torn to pieces. Not many musicians drives me to go and start writing music. But, you can say my album is half written by now, and it’s totally thanks to Malcolm’s music.


Greg Malcolm – Prayer

Greg Malcolm – Art

Greg Malcolm – Ducks

[Future reading]

[Buy] Leather and Lacy

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