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Review: Prester John: Desire for a Straight Line

Shawn Persinger and David Miller collaborate for a very funky acoustic guitar/mandolin fusion project on the disc Desire For A Straight Line.  At points one feels like they are listening to a musical passage from the Antonio Banderas film Desperado at other points it sounds like you're back in 1989 playing The Legend of Zelda on your Nintendo Entertainment System.  And then there are points that would do any blues musician proud.  And that's all within the first track of the CD!

Any music fan knows they are in for a ride when the only two instruments listed on the album sleeve are acoustic guitar and mandolin, but Desire... takes you on a ride even wilder than Mr. Toad could have imagined.  Miller's mandolin playing makes the listener question if Eddie Van Halen got bored, learned a new instrument, and then decided to come to Connecticut to cut a few tracks with Shawn Persinger.

And believe me when I say that Persinger's acoustic guitar playing more than holds up to its end of the bargin.  Flying all over the neck and rarely stopping to catch his breath, Persinger makes fast guitar playing someone actually would want to sit down and listen to.  His licks are interesting, articulate, and they groove.  Even when highly dissonant this music is easy to embrace.  And its because the dissonance is there with purpose and not just thrown in for the sake of it.

The highlight for me is easily track six, Making Circles.  The opening sounds like the intro of the 2001 (Grammy nominated, I might add) song Chop Suey! by the one and only System Of A Down.  The track goes nowhere near the aforementioned atrocity once the brief sequence is complete, instead infusing a brilliant array of styles as well as a fantastic use of the space around the notes at certain points.

Persinger's style (and I mean this in a good way) is so all over the place that the start of the thirteenth track, Duckling could easily be mistaken for Jack Johnson.  That same Jack Johnson rhythm continues in the background for the entirety of the song but it may get lost amongst the fiery flurry of overdubs.

With a disc of acoustic guitar and mandolin instrumentals Prester John certainly came out of left field, but its necessarily unwelcomed.  The music on this compilation will probably never be widely accepted by the masses outside of somewhere in a film but for those who do appreciate this sort of thing it is nice journey to take.  Check it out if you think you want to break away from the mundane.  5/5


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