Friday, April 28, 2006

Kaki King

I am not a big fan of "unusual" guitar techniques. I hardly do any tapping at all (tapping this days cannot be considered unusual or strange, but it is not the "normal" way of playing guitar) and, although I have practiced it and have some fair degree of control, I don't find it natural. It simply does not suit my particular style.

Of course, that does not mean that I do not like it. In fact, Van Halen - one of the pioneers of the two-handed tapping technique - is among my favorite players, and his licks are simply awesome, no matter which technique he uses to play them.

On the other hand, guitar players like Stanley Jordan or Michaelangelo Battio, who owe a certain (usually large) amount of their popularity to their unorthodox way of playing and their technical wizardry, usually focus more on the instrument itself than on the music they are playing and, while it is interesting to see them performing live, when you just listen to what they play and do not watch it, you realize that they are not so great as you thought they were.

However, some players (like Van Halen himself or my beloved Jeff Healey) explore the possibilities of their instrument and end up developing their personal and unique technique, which they later use to create their very own style of music, playing things that would not come out so naturally using a more "conventional" approach. Those are the players that I really like.

My latest discovering in the vast realm of contemporary guitar players is Kaki King, who definitely deserves being included in this last group. I discovered her yesterday while looking for some information about Ovation guitars (like me, she plays one of them), and her music is not only rather innovative, but also deep and intelligent.

Kaki has taken the peculiar style of Preston Reed and given it a new (and really interesting) meaning. Far fom being just a mere display of technical extravaganzas (I am sorry to say it, but, IMHO, Reed's music is just that), she creates interesting atmospheres and uses her particular technique for its real purpose: expressing her musical ideas.

You can have a look at the following video to know what I am talking about.

By the way, I guess she must use tons of nail hardener to prevent her fingernails from breaking. I find it almost painful to see how she hits those steel strings with such energy. I have tried to play flamenco on a acoustic guitar a couple of times (yes, I know it is rather stupid...), and both of them I wrecked my nails within the first minute of playing. Ouch!

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