Why am I reviewing an album from a year ago? Well, because I’ve been listening to it. And because it’s good. And because it’s original. And because it’s good art.
So, a few things worth mentioning:
Up front confession: I’m a big fan of Antoine Dufour’s guitar playing. He is a genius. His song, “These Moments“, first opened my eyes up to the potential of all this modern fingerstyle acoustic guitar nonsense. And I’ve been hooked since.
His 2017 album “Back & Forth” is all original material. This is worth mentioning, because his covers of popular songs like Coldplay’s “Talk” and Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” are amazing and have been so well-received.
“Back & Forth” is both an acoustic and electronic album. The original tunes on Side A are played in solo acoustic guitar style, true to Dufour’s own style. Side B of the album are re-creations of these songs as electronic music.
Is it any good? Yes.
Yes. Definitively, yes. His guitar playing is on point. The songs are excellent compositions. Even simple parts, like the gentle strumming in “Drowning”, is not only played well, but recorded beautifully.
Side B, the electronic versions of the songs, however, is good for a different reason.
A more complicated ‘Yes’.
I don’t actually like these versions of the song. It sounds like the synth parts were taken from Super Mario Bros.
When I listen to the album for pleasure, I don’t listen to the second half. But the electronic version is important for several reasons.
It breaks the mold. Stepping outside of the accepted fingerstyle guitar mold is risky, but that’s what you have to do to grow. And I fully appreciate that Dufour is doing that.
It’s a window into the writing process. The electronic arrangements assign different synth parts, drum loops, and effects to all the little nuances of the guitar arrangements. So you essentially get to see Dufour take a tight guitar composition and blow it up and orchestrate it EDM-style. It’s a worthwhile exercise as a musician to compare ‘takes’ and study what he’s done.
It breaks some ground on incorporating fingerstyle playing in an electronic mix. Several of the songs have fairly full guitar playing interweaved in the electronic mix. I personally think this is an exciting pathway for acoustic guitar to go down, so it’s interesting to see these steps in action.
Listen to it.
Back & Forth by Antoine Dufour
‘Back & Forth’ is Antoine Dufour’s sixth solo release and by far his most ambitious release to date. Dufour’s dedication to his art is apparent from the first to the last note in this double record CD/LP release.
The first record (Side A) is made up of eleven new solo acoustic guitar tracks, everyone with a different feel and texture. It’s hard to pick a favorite track in ‘Back & Forth’ due to the fact that every track is a masterpiece in it’s own way. After ‘Existence’ and ‘Convergences’ it’s hard to believe Dufour could rise any higher, but in every way, he has created a new high.
While (Side A) is a masterful collection of music, the second record (Side B) brings to reality just how amazing a composer, recording engineer, and producer Antoine Dufour has become. Every track on the electronic (Side B) is a musical mind palace, with every turn and corner of his music moving in perfect alignment.
Montreal, Canada based guitarist Antoine Dufour is known colloquially among the best guitar players in the world and as a musician’s musician. To fans of popular music, he deftly combines jaw-dropping guitar playing skills and an artistic soul in crafting instrumental compositions that reflect ambient and progressive music that transcends global cultures and languages. That he does this in an incredibly visual and entertaining style has endeared him to a broad spectrum of fans of popular music.
- Air Ground (4:52)
- Electromagnetic Sun Powered Starship (4:12)
- Déjà Vu (3:58)
- Polar Shift (3:00)
- Star Trails Part I – Polaris (3:48)
- Star Trails Part II – Sigma Octantis (2:00)
- Intersections (4:41)
- Overlay (3:48)
- Drowning (5:18)
- She is Music (4:45)
- Auto Reverse (3:09)
- Air Ground (electronic) (4:49)
- Electromagnetic Sun Powered Starship (electronic) (4:12)
- Déjà Vu (electronic) (3:56)
- Polar Shift (electronic) (3:21)
- Star Trails Part I – Polaris (electronic) (3:49)
- Star Trails Part II – Sigma Octantis (electronic) (2:05)
- Intersections (electronic) (4:35)
- Overlay (electronic) (3:54)
- Drowning (electronic) (5:22)
- She is Music (electronic) (4:52)
- Auto Reverse (electronic) (3:15)