Guitarist Paul Prince has released his debut solo recording OCEAN BELLS on Afropolynesian Records, his own label as well.
The tendrils of this music touch the ears as Prince would touch the strings of his guitars. The music is programmatic and the presentation is pristine and sturdy. Prince’s performance encompasses his sense of history, the breadths and similarities between cultures and his ingenious comprehension of timbres.
The tide of the playing projects a continuous digital sensitivity. The guitar is always sounding. There are very few seconds of pause because Prince is always rendering the strings’ sound vibrant, resonant and ultimately fluid as in the motion of water and of the wind.
Elegant pure switches in rhythm manifest themselves in the highs and the lows, the aboves and belows, of moving from one sonic place to the next. The ostensible repetition of phrases allows the listener to become a part of the music’s texture and pattern but, with the small changes that occur from one repetition to the next, these phrasings become dimensional rather than linear. A multi-level two-handed playing embellishes the sound with a full rich quality that is similar to four hand piano playing. The impact is strong but not overbearing. The inclusion of mbira, the vocals from both Prince and Ambuya Beauler Dyoko and percussion serve to thicken the dimensionality.
The entire recording sweeps me away, putting me in an environment that sparkles with jewel-like clarity. Prince is completely in love with feeling the music in his fingers. His facility with slack key and Zimbabwean guitar techniques is an indispensable aspect of the sprightly, twinkling, carefree and light-hearted quality of the songs.
Prince expresses himself with a delicacy that is entrancing and a result of his natural musical impulse. The piece NYAMAMUSANGO which begins with the sound of the ocean washing on the beach is not the only track that lingers, lilts and alludes to subtle sensuousness. Basking in the warmth of Prince’s guitar playing throughout the entire recording becomes total pleasure.
How music and human nature mix becomes the overriding property of Prince’s concept in this recording---an intention sometimes lost when creativity is not recognized as coming alive possibly in an unconventional manner and as contributing critically to the formation of the soul.