And Grace Will Lead Me Home – Mark Kroos

If you liked Disasterpeace’s Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, you should check out these instrumental bluegrass-influenced clean guitar tracks. I first discovered Mark Kroos’ work in video form; he plays two guitar necks at once using tapping, and it’s really cool to watch. (Check out his playthrough of “Smoke & Mirrors” here.) His musical compositions are an amazing use of the clean guitar, and it’s just wonderful to hear his note-based harmonies (not to say he doesn’t use chords, because he does) and the interesting rhythms that come from his melodies. It was difficult for me to decide which album of his to use, because I absolutely love “Kroos on the Loose”, “Pedals Press the Floor”, “Flight Attempt”, “Cedar Top”, and “Be Still & Know”, but this album’s songs are so complex; Kroos shows off the ability to solo like Eddie Van Halen and instead chooses to use his talents for beauty, calm, and joy. “Indigo Child” is a masterclass in major harmony, and the main riff of the second half of the song is a trademark Kroos rhythm that you’ll find all over his work, and I’m glad for it. He highlights the really cool way he keeps the beat with pauses on “Novelty Theme Park Items” and “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft” and by putting his power chords at the forefront of “Tide Pools of Monterey”. After the brilliant outro of “Tide Pools of Monterey”, we’re treated to the amazingly worrying “Mythical Reptile Surge”, where Kroos amps up the pressure over the best use of accelerando there ever was, and “The Demons Were Gone”, which lays out the harmony of the song in the first ten seconds before going absolutely wild over it. I’m not always sure what time signature this man is in (mostly 4/4), but “The Descent” is even better because I can’t count it (starting around 0:40 in, I think, 10/8 or 11/8), and because he has the audacity to end a song called “The Descent” with such beautiful rising scales. From the first note of this album, which immediately transforms into a superspeed pattern that clarifies you’re listening to a guitarist’s fantasy, to the last, a held note that perfectly resolves a warm rendition of a classic hymn. My favorite track on the album is “The Redemption (Here You Are, Glowing Sun)”, for the grounding low notes that hold you at the start of the song, the ambiguity in the harmony at 2:10, and the really cool resolved riffing at 2:59, though you should start at the beginning of this album; trust me, you’ll want to get to the end.

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