When I first listened to Deviations by Dominic Frasca, it sounded like yet another one of those guitar virtuoso releases where the guy is playing way too many notes for anything to really sink in. The kind where fast fingers and style points seem to be more the concern than actually creating something emotionally involving and where wow factor is quickly replaced by a shrug of the shoulders because you can't remember anything after the release is over. Luckily, I gave the disc several more listens, and in many places it revealed itself to be a much deeper and involving listen than I had thought previous.
Some people will probably get annoyed at the frenetic pace of the disc and leave it at that, especially after the first track "Dometude," which clocks in at just under two minutes and sounds like math rock by way of classical guitarist. But Frasca is no ordinary guitarist. Interestingly enough, he built the guitars that he uses on the release, and all the pieces on the disc were created without the use of overdubs. He taps, picks, and pulls the strings, and hits blocks of wood against the guitar body, at times creating tracks that are complex enough to sound like 3 or more people playing at the same time.
"Forced Entry" follows the aforementioned opening track, and at first it seems like it's going to move in nearly the same direction, but as it progresses, slight rhythmic changes and percussive elements (again, made with the guitar) liven it up as it moves from pretty plucked trance-like repetition to a middle-section that sounds like some sort of tribal drum machine programming before blending the two sides together during the latter third. Fortunately, "Lefty's Elegy" slows things down quite a bit after the first two tracks, and while it veers pretty close to new age, it's a welcome slowdown.
The centerpiece of the album is the twenty minute album-titled "Deviations," and after a somewhat draggy first half (where Frasca seems to retread the same sort of feel that "Forced Entry" presented), the piece hits a stride about halfway through and really shines as it takes on a more introspective feel. Frasca first made his entry with a cover of Steve Reich, and on this disc he tackles another of the minimal masters with a version of "Two Pages" by Philip Glass that works quite well with his repetitive style of playing. That said, Deviations is more for guitarist junkies than those looking for a minimalist fix. The guitar is an expressive instrument, but the release could have used even more variety in order to open things up a bit more. As it stands, it's no doubt an impressive achievement in playing the instrument, but does leave me feeling a bit glossed-over at times.