Rhys Chatham, “Guitar Trio Is My Life!”, 2008
Credit: Design and Photography

Utilizing multiple electric guitars and a single chord, 1977’s “Guitar Trio” is composer Rhys Chatham’s signature work, and a euphoric, minimal-punk classic. It’s an inspired amalgamation — the droning, shimmering harmonics of John Cale and Tony Conrad fused with the power and fury of the Ramones — that had a meteoric impact. It placed Chatham at the forefront of the burgeoning No Wave scene; its influence then spread further, as protégés and participants in Chatham’s ensembles — including Glenn Branca and members of Sonic Youth — folded the sound into their own. “Guitar Trio” remains a composition with a half-life, an adventure in sound that continues to radiate influence and inspiration.

Now, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Guitar Trio” on an epic scale, Chatham musters an all-star guitar army for the 3xCD set, “GUITAR TRIO IS MY LIFE!” The sprawling collection features members of Sonic Youth, Swans, Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hüsker Dü, Modern Lovers, Silver Mt. Zion, Town and Country, Die Kreutzen, 90-Day Men, Collections of Colonies of Bees, and many more; even Tony Conrad gets in on the act. Together these artists celebrate Chatham’s wordless anthem, with its minimalist origins, rock & roll rhythm, ecstatic whorl of harmonics, and ever-evolving, ever-expanding nature.

So, take a listen, and hear what one man can do with hundreds of guitars, 30 years, one chord, and a skyscraper of amps set to Liquefy. “Guitar Trio” endures.

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