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Reviews: Disruption Theory era (1999-2001)

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20th Century Guitar Magazine (February 2001)
Expose’ Magazine #20 (October 2000)
Alternative Press Magazine #146 (September 2000)
Iowa City Press-Citizen (June 22, 2000)
United Nations FAO CASA Gazette (June 2000)
MOJO Magazine #78 (May 2000)
Outburn Magazine #12 (Summer 2000)
Fuse Online
Eclectic Earwig Reviews

20th Century Guitar Magazine, February 2001, by Robert Silverstein.

A spectacular collision of manifold musical thoughts and patterns, Disruption Theory introduces the talents of L.A.-based guitarist Andre LaFosse. Laced with a complex pattern of rock-solid drum and bass rhythms, Disruption Theory integrates an expansive spectrum of guitar sounds and visions drawing from jazz, rock, avant-garde, ambient and World Beat. With its myriad maze of sinewy jungle rhythms and otherworldly musical shadings, Disruption Theory is also very much a guitar album. In fact, LaFosse goes to great lengths to point out that all sounds on the album, aside from drum programming and the occasional Mellotron, are all created with an electric guitar. To call Disruption Theory a futuristic album would be an understatement. Using electric guitars to chart an exploratory trek into the musical twilight zone, LaFosse breaks down musical borders, and in doing so he has come up with a high-tech instrumental guitar album that is clearly daring and certainly different.

Expose’ Magazine #20 (October 2000), by Mike Ezzo.

Here is a guitarist whose playing has an assuredly original kind of American twang to it. With the exception of some drum machine work, all the sounds Andre LaFosse uses to produce his music are made by guitar. If the thought of drum machine turns you off however read on anyway: it actually fits right into his scheme of music making and the results are formiddible. Besides, the way the machine is employed is such that no human could ever perform the patterns he uses. LaFosse gives you six lengthy instrumental portraits on this CD, and does a fine job of imprinting his own musical personality, rather than skipping around to various odd styles. His six-stringer is pumped up with energy, creating a firestorm of pyrotechnics and burning sounds, but with a sensitivity to weirdness and experimentation where need be. The relentless surge and brisk pace of most of these tunes are such that only a drum machine could ever keep up. I like how he settles into muscular grooves with a twisted sort of bending and slurring of tones, at times bathed in distortion, at others emulating a softer, Chapman Stick texture. You may notice a dearth of name-dropping in this review and that is because I can’t really compare LaFosse to anyone I know of. Perhaps Hendrix could be pointed to but only as an iconic influence. He seems to have roots in blues, jazz, 70’s rock and probably a bit of classical and experimental music as well. (Classical guitar training is likely). And he utilizes it all to create an album that is usually made by people who can only capture “atmospheres” (since they can’t play guitar well). “Chops” are often referred to disparagingly by people who work in experimental idioms, but Disruption Theory reveals the difference it makes when a player knows what he is doing. Here is one that deserves the title “unique.”

Alternative Press Magazine #146 (September 2000), by Bill Tilland.

(NOTE: The references to “myriad MIDI voices” are a bit misleading, as there’s absolutely no guitar synth on the album – and aside from some bass sounds and the oft-mentioned Mellotron patch, no synth at all – but I definitely take the assumption of prominent non-guitar elements as a compliment.)

Using every effects processor and MIDI voice known to man, plus some very crisp, techno-derived drum programming, Andre LaFosse conducts an advanced clinic in electric guitar technique and studio technology on Disruption Theory. And since he also has an abundance of chops and taste, what might have been shallow studio self-indulgence turns out to be a substantial and satisfying experience. Most of the six pieces adopt recognizable styles, from a supercharged bent-note blues with a strong Hendrix flavor, to boogie, swamp country and one heavily MIDI’d piece of Tangerine Dream-like space rock.

LaFosse’s pieces are primarily riff-oriented; actual hummable melodies are scarce. But much can be done with a good riff, and LaFosse moves back and forth between three or four foreground/background riffs in each piece, using variations of the verse-bridge-chorus format, sounding like a supergroup with three flash guitarists — one playing nasty fuzz licks, another working the whammy bar, a third soaring like Carlos Santana’s musical double. On the title track, LaFosse drop-kicks his restraint and does the rock-star/guitar-god thing, running up and down the fretboard and just flat-out wailing. And he’s damn good at that, too. For electric guitar enthusiasts everywhere, this one’s essential.

Iowa City Press-Citizen, Thursday, June 22, 2000, by Jim Musser.

The 25-year-old son of UI School of Music’s Leopold LaFosse, Andre is a West High grad who studied English and communications for two years at St. Paul’s Macalester College before heading out to the California Institute of the Arts to focus on music composition and guitar playing.

The six pieces on Disruption Theory run from seven to ten minutes each and, except for the programmed rhythm sections (and one Mellotron sample on the title cut), every sound you hear on this high-energy effort hails from LaFosse’s otherworldly electric guitar.

Bits of jazz/rock fusion, electronica, industrial and techno leap in and out of the picture, but it’s muscular, roaring, high-tech wizardry with a distinct rock flair which dominates the overall sound. Not for every taste, to be sure, but there’s a furious creativity and inventiveness at work here which allows LaFosse to more than hold his own with the usualGuitar Player magazine ax-hero.

United Nations FAO CASA Gazette, June 2000, by Stavros Moschopoulos.

Andre LaFosse is an extremely accomplished electric guitarist. His debut recording, Disruption Theory, is a great instrumental release full of experienced styles and masterful handling. The sound is versatile, composite and pyrotechnic. This is no junior guitar stuff but the result of a expansive mind full of creative energy and electronic gyrations. A post-modern modernity, a shining star in a sea full of wanna-be’s.

MOJO Magazine, May 2000, by Joe Cushley.

Andre LaFosse is an astonishing guitarist of a very different ilk. On Disruption Theory he lets fly with some incredibly fast, weird and funky playing over drum’n’bass backing tracks. Fripp and Zappa, step aside.

Outburn #12 (Summer 2000), by Mike Learned.

When one thinks of a guitar album, one thinks of characters like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani jamming away, trying to show prowess and one-ups-manship with the abiliy to play more notes than the other guy. None of these come close to describing what is heard here. Six tracks making up a full-length album with drum and percussion backgrounds, and the rest is purely guitar created. Disruption Theory is one of the best guitar albums I’ve ever heard, because it was written as an album. This is not a collection of intros to songs wrapped around a five to ten minute solo — this is a written album, made with movements, meter, arrangement, and an idea in mind. Also, LaFosse obviously spends a lot of time creating the different guitar based sounds, some of which you could easily mistake for other instruments. His choices of styles and selections of tones and content herald from house, to drum & bass, to some forms of jazz, and things one can expect to hear on any number of Anime soundtracks.

Fuse Online, by David Dorkin.

Guitarist Andre LaFosse’s debut cd should appeal to fans of Zappa/Mike Keneally and more generally, fans of interesting mixes of guitar, progressive music and even electronica. The title track at almost 11 minutes runs the gamut and is an interesting collage of sounds.

Eclectic Earwig Reviews, by Michael Askounes.

Take one part Joe Satriani, one part frantically programmed percussion, and throw in a dash of Mellotron and you’ve pretty much got yourself Andre LaFosse’s latest genre-busting CD, Disruption Theory. This guitar-heavy release is not much more than a showcase for LaFosse’s mastery over the electric guitar, with Andre seemingly squeezing every texture out of the beast as he possibly can (or just randomly going through his pedal board’s factory-defined patches – I’m really not sure which). The guitar playing on Disruption Theory is very well done indeed, but the major hurdle which LaFosse must overcome is to keep this 60 minute drum machine/guitar showcase from getting tedious. The final result of this struggle is a mixed one: there are flashes of brilliance in some of LaFosse’s rhythmic guitar work, but unfortunately during some of these 10 minute tracks, tedium rears its ugly head from time to time as well.

The percussion tracks laid down by LaFosse to serve as a backdrop to his guitar antics seem to be influenced by house or jungle music – you could almost envision some of these complex and catchy rhythms being blasted out of a D.J.’s sound system at a sweaty downtown dance club. However, the electronica ends there as every other sound on the CD (with the exception of a Mellotron sample on the title cut) emanates from LaFosse’s electric guitar.

LaFosse really does show off a dazzling array of different sounds out of the guitar, ranging from down and dirty distorted grooves to smooth jazzy riffs to more airy and ambient background sounds. Andre switches between standard guitar sounds and more synthesized effects effortlessly, and truly shows a mastery of his instrument.

While technically this is a very good guitar album, it does begin to lose its appeal after about 30 minutes of listening. There just isn’t enough variety to keep things interesting for very long, and the warp speed electronic percussion grated on my nerves after a short period of time. Also, LaFosse seems to choose guitar sounds at random, and while the wide array of textures is impressive, it’s not always appropriate for the songs. The title track “Disruption Theory” is a good example of this, with LaFosse seemingly simply trying every bank available to him on his effects box without much regard for the composition itself.

That’s not to say that Disruption Theory is a poor album – there is a lot of interesting guitar work here, and the percussion elements are interesting at least for a few songs. However, Disruption Theory seems to suffer from its lack of distinctiveness – all the song really begin to meld into one another, and are deficient in their uniqueness. Great guitar work does not automatically equal a great album, and Disruption Theory is a case in point. Hopefully in the future, the very talented LaFosse will team up with some other humans to create some more eclectic and engaging music, but he falls a bit short of the mark with Disruption Theory.

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