PHOTO: Cherry wood body with aircraft grade birch plywood. One of the unusual features of this guitar is the ability to adjust pickup height relative to the strings in real-time, via stainless steel thumb screws on the back surface. (photos: Delene Porter)
Beginning with Killick's first glimpse of the nearly completed guitar, below are the final moments of the build told sequentially via email...
Delene and I just happened to be here together as these email videos came in. We're both in awe of the beauty! And the acoustic response is incredibly strong and rich. The instrument is full of innovations from top to bottom, side to every angle...a new vocabulary will have to be created to address the new forms and functions. I am deeply honored to steward this guitar...
Peace and Love,
PS: And I have to add...the instrument strikes a very personal chord with me aesthetically. It feels like my foundational sensibilities are all referenced...something has transpired on a deep level. Thank you.
Killick ~ It is my great honor you have allowed me to build this instrument for you, sight unseen, proceeding entirely on trust and a spoken agreement. In doing so, you have allowed me to be my best self. The guitar represents my sense of you. In essence it is a reflection of you, as filtered through me. It requires courage to do what you have done...grant me complete freedom.
From one artist to another — thank you.
There are many subtleties to this machine which will be revealed over time, and with exploration. Some of them I am just beginning to glimpse, myself.
I do already hear enough to say (with certainty) this guitar represents an important future direction. It is designed and built to chase an acoustic principle, and even unfinished, this path forward has been confirmed.
I look with excitement to where you leap with this new tool...
PHOTOS: Video game kill switch placed deliberately in the path of the pick sweep allows for random or rhythmic intermittent silence. Quick release neck system swaps in fretless multi-scale neck for fretted. Every try playing a fretless fanned fret neck with no position markers?
I naturally have an inclination towards discovery (and following it to the snapping end of the branch), and towards a cycle of pattern recognition, pattern forgetting, pattern re-imagining, and pattern reclamation. Repurposing plays a large role. Fun is a necessary component, even when the work bares more than I’m ready to reveal. And letting go of superficial concerns, marketplace demands, and the ever-escalating popularity arms race. Just heads down, doing it, and relishing connection.
Having the right tools for this work has been my honor and joy. Rick Toone came into my life through the magic of the web, and something about what I was seeing and hearing captured a deep place within. Little by little, we became friends. I am in awe of his comprehensive vision and the tenacity to see it through every step of the way. The Walrus, so named is the guitar he built for me, does something very rare: it encompasses the trajectory of my artistic experience from beginning to present to ???
The Walrus is simultaneously the most traditional instrument I have (standard tuning, 6 strings, conventional handling characteristics) and the most forward-looking (radical rethinking of materials, form, aural qualities, and aesthetics in service of responsiveness). It takes me through (with ease) Segovia scales, atonality, overtone manipulation, percussiveness, radical timbral shaping, ghost plucking, songs, explorations, soundscapes, and the unwritten. I love it. There is so much personality and personalness infused into the instrument.
The particulars of Walrus may not suit anyone else’s needs, but the core is solid, and surrounded by whatever the opposite of window dressing. Rick has achieved greatness in his designs, and what’s exciting is he’s just getting started. Us Jersey kids have that in common. Thanks for listening.
I think it is relatively easy to follow established norms. Most of us do so. Most music, most musical forms, are established norms. What I love about Killick's music is he works to deliberately avoid cliches. This is not as easy as it sounds.
I was inspired to create gas-tight Mylar pantaloons using a totally new approach. I put a contact mic on the Walrus behind the bridge on the cherry wood, recorded a passage in the looper, then dropped it three octaves. The result is something like the Japanese concept of suikinkutsu, irregularly spaced rhythms and textures from (controlled) nature...
• tracks 4, 5, 6, & 7: Contemporary Trends in Guitar
• all tracks: The Overpuss