Tim Brady: Actions Speak Louder

Some serious guitar playing and conceptualising come from fretworker Brady, manifest in such as treated solos and electronic sound masses


Canadian composer and guitarist Tim Brady was born in Montréal in 1956. He studied composition there and at New England Conservatory, Boston, and guitar with Mick Goodrick. After Brady returned to Montreal in 1987 he established his chamber ensemble, Bradyworks, and began performing as a solo guitarist in electro-acoustic settings. He is a stylistic polymath, whose styles include the free atonality of Chamber Concerto (1985) and the minimalism of The Songline (1989–91).

Actions Speak Louder is an ambitious three-CD set encompassing remastered older recordings, and more recent compositions. The first disc is the most impressive, I reckon, and will be of most interest to our readers. It focuses on Brady’s work as a solo electric guitarist, which is essential to his practice as a composer; the recording studio is an instrument and workspace.

It comprises four new works for solo guitar plus electronics, and concludes with a guitar quartet. The three-movement Simple Loops In Complex Time features a series of atmospheric treated guitar solos, showing Brady’s considerable virtuosity. The four-movement The Virtuosity Of Time inclines toward more purely electronic sound masses. The final work, Uncertain Impact, is an intriguing seven-minute quartet for Brady’s group Instruments of Happiness, featuring extended guitar techniques and lively interplay between the participants.

The second disc features Brady’s loud, exuberant and declamatory four-movement Triple Concerto: Because Everything Has Changed for electric guitar (Brady, in full feedback mode), violin (Helmut Lipsky), tabla and percussion (Shawn Mativetsky) and virtual orchestra, lasting 40 minutes. The third disc contains two remastered archival recordings. Revolutionary Songs features six poems performed by soprano Nathalie Poulin with Bradyworks, featuring saxophones, piano, cello, percussion and electric guitar. As It Happened combines samples of a documentary interview plus chorus, guitar and percussion, in a conceptual composition about the CIA’s covert drug experiments in 1960s Montreal. The discs are available separately.

CD1: Simple Loops In Complex Times; At Sergio’s Request; 60% (Just Water); The Virtuosity Of Time; Uncertain Impact (65.27)
CD 2: Triple Concerto: Because Everything Has Changed (40.44)
CD3: Revolutionary Songs; As It Happened (50.45)
Collectively, Tim Brady, Jonathan Barriault, Simon Duchesne, Françis Brunet-Turcotte (g); Helmut Lipsky (vn); Shawn Mativetsky (tab, pc); Nathalie Poulin (v); and others. June, July 2020, no location given.
Redshift Records TK486/487/488