TWO ADEPT young guns of the fingerstyle guitar, Cameron Knowler and Eli Winter really came to appreciate each other on a winter tour of the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.
The Trans-Pecos is a land of stark beauty, of ghost towns and mountain ranges. The pair spent the winter of 2018 gigging through the small towns out there: Marfa, Terlingua, Alpine, beyond. Each night they played solo and duo sets, interpreting traditional folk songs and showcasing their own, unifying seemingly disparate approaches to the guitar.
As they got to know each other, a joint conversation in the guitar soli style, drawing on a line back through William Tyler, Jack Rose, Kicking Mule Records to Leo Kottke, Bert Jansch and John Fahey, became a very real prospect.
And so it came to pass: Anticipation, a first album of gorgeous duets by the two guitarists, and a product of this trip, documenting a musical juncture between desert and city, Eli’s Chicago and Cameron’s adopted South West, folk traditions and America’s musical avant-garde.
They’ve just shared another taster of the record, out next month, “Parapraxis Of A Dragonfly”, which you can dive into below. It’s laidback, soothing, yet also complex and illustrative of the intense conversation that they had during that tour – and are still having today.
The title itself suggests the beauty of chance, of the ear and the fingers and the fretboard capitalising on the moment; a parapraxis being, in psychological theory, “an error in speech, memory, or physical action that occurs due to the interference of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought.”
Hear the way their guitars mesh and explore, each looking for a new way through, following each other yet pulling away, wishing for other paths opening up every second in the iterative harmonic constellation.
At first, Cameron says, their collaboration “seemed insurmountable conceptually”, but the pair – Cameron, who came to bluegrass guitar through an obsession with Norman Blake, teaching himself over years of practice sessions 12 to 16 hours long, and 23-year-old Eli, led ever onward by his touchstones Daniel Bachman and Jack Rose – laid down the record in a marathon nine-hour session in Houston, discovering a shared language as they played.
“Parapraxis Of A Dragonfly” follows their previous single drop, the pastoral, open yearn of “Strawberry Milk”, the video for which you can watch here.
Cameron Knowler & Eli Winter’s Anticipation will be released by American Dreams records digitally and on CD and LP by American Dreams Records on March 12th; you can place your order right now over at Bandcamp.