Two Guitars – Bending Time – Modish Creative Group, 25:21 ****:
(Gus Wieland – guitar, vocals; Brian Conigliaro – guitar, harmonica, vocals; Eddie Torres – percussion)
Two Guitars is not exactly an overnight success story. Gus Wieland and Brian Conigliaro are experienced versatile musicians. They have played with a wide assortment of name acts, including, Ray Charles, Gerry Mulligan, Eubie Blake, Dizzy Gillespie, The Turtles, Lou Rawls, The Tokens, Al Wilson and even Snoop Dogg. They are known for their ability to delve into standards and blend the intrinsic elements into surprising and innovative recreations. Additionally, they have written new material and have experience in commercials. Their intuitive approach to music and each other’s technical expertise provides an interesting dynamic to this association.
Bending Time is the first collaboration of Two Guitars. At the core of this project is the eclectic group of covers. The opening track “Black Magic Woman” combines the spooky blues motif of early Fleetwood Mac (written by guitarist Peter Green) with the Latin-tinged intensity of Santana (who recorded this and produced a Top 40 hit). Gus Wieland’s throaty vocals are a pleasing complement to the tandem guitar rhythms of Wieland and Conigliaro (who adds a swinging blues harp solo). Despite the recognizable melody line, the group (aided by Eddie Torres percussion), manages to reinvent the song with a fresh arrangement. “She’s Not There” breaks away from the Zombies’ psychedelic phrasing. The acoustic guitar interplay is sparkling, balanced between lead and rhythm. With just guitars and voice, the duo jazzes up Paul Simon’s “The Only Living Boy In New York”. Rather than attempting to emulate the brilliant precision of Simon and Garfunkel’s vocals, a breezy ambiance pervades the number.
Perhaps the most intriguing pieces are the two instrumentals. A beautiful lyrical rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” features a textured sound that envelops the aural themes. The atmospheric resonance is captured in a simple organic structure. The lone original composition, “Riverfest” embraces a jaunty folk harmonic with acoustic fluidity. The integrated guitar work cultivates the expressiveness and chemistry that defines Two Guitars.
At a scant twenty-five minutes, this EP is a good introduction to a talented duo. A full-length venture might enhance this auspicious debut.
TrackList: Black Magic Woman; Riverfest; Only Living Boy In New York; Overjoyed; She’s Not There; Walk Away Renee
— Robbie Gerson