Atlantic Monthly

Transcendent Tibbetts

Steve Tibbetts’s “The Fall of Us All” (his sixth album for ECM) is definitely not recommended for long drives.  The music takes you far deeper than the normal light trance that permits attentiveness on the highway.  On the other hand, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam and want to forget yourself completely, or if you just want to zone out on your couch, Tibbetts’s guitar-from-beyond-the-solar-system will take you to realms hitherto glimpsed only by the Hubble space telescope and will offer several plausible explanations of dark matter.

Reminiscent when he’s loud of late, jazzified Hendrix and in softer moments of the acoustic John McLaughlin, Tibbetts leads an ensemble propelled by a powerful percussion section that includes a tabla, congas, steel drums, sundry electronic samples, and none of the usual hardware of the common drum set.  This makes for a unique sound–lots of drive, particularly from the tabla, and lots of clarity, because nothing is drowned in cymbal wash.

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, currently living in Minneapolis, Tibbetts has spent a lot of time studying percussion in the Far East.  Those studies have obviously informed the eleven highly dynamic compositions here.  This is not jazz, not rock, not dance, not world, not even of this world.  Call it ethereal clarity.

Charles M. Young           The Atlantic Monthly         November 1993

Steve Tibbetts