Steve Tibbetts – Life Of


Mamie Eisenhower launches the first nuclear-powered submarine.

Hudson merges with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors Corp.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe marry.

Guitarist Steve Tibbetts is born is born in Madison, Wisc.

1954 was a good year…

I got turned on to Tibbetts by my friend Jon Iverson whose love of amazing music, t-shirts and cats is unmatched among even my broadest circle of friends.

His name came up in reference to the photo – which depicts dozens of cats caught in a camera’s flash staring back from the night darkness – used on his newest album cover.

Tibbets has more than a dozen LPs to his name, starting in college with a deuce, but it was the 1980 self-released Yr – featuring as many as 50 overdubs on one track alone – which garnered him some electric-guitar fan love.

It wasn’t long before he was plugged into ECM Records and putting out a slow, but steady diet of LPs that showcased his unique style – often blending disparate instrumentation and vocals – a style which Tibbetts himself describes as “post modern Neo-privitism.”

Fans who looked for his albums between his somewhat extended recording hiatuses were treated to textured sonic walls layered with samples, tape-loops, synth-sequencer programming and always his ever-present electric and acoustic guitars.

I’d not been familiar with his work before hearing Life Of, his latest release which came out May 18th, so I wasn’t prepared for the haunting beauty of the fingerpicking from his Martin 12-string.

The album is a lush, expressive, timbrally-rich and curated sonic temple where Tibbets worships at the altar of his guitar religiously. Featuring a smattering of piano and what the label describes as “artfully deployed field samples of Balinese gongs” along with the percussive intonations of long-time musical collaborator Marc Anderson and the murmur of cellist Michelle Kinney, Life Of had me transported in space and time to a mist-shrouded aural landscape where glimpses of Tibbetts seem to slide into and out of focus at the periphery of my vision.

Best suited to a quiet room or, perhaps better yet (for some) a pair of headphones, this album has been in heavy rotation for the last couple of weeks.

Happy listening.

ECM Records/Verlag
Edition Zeitgenössische Musik GmbH Postfach 600 331 D - 81203 München

spyder1's picture

I am currently listening to Steve Tibbetts, "Life Of," as a 88.2/96 FLAC download. You can hear each guitar string resonate.

jimx1169's picture

Beautiful music. Great to listen to at the end of a tough week.

jimx1169's picture

This album also "Recording of the Month" in Stereophile. Glad to see the album is well received.

Bob Karp's picture

definitely check out Natural Causes. I love Steve's work.