Alan Fark, Minor 7th Acoustic Guitar Music Reviews 2015 – March 24, 2016:
Listener Alert! DO NOT let your ears deceive you upon playing Keith Lykins’ latest release “Encryptions”. Even though it sometimes sounds as if there are two or three performers playing, this is a solo album with no overdubbing. Keith will alternate between a standard 6 string acoustic guitar and an instrument of his own invention called The DAGR9. This is a 9 string instrument that doubles the three bass strings; sometimes in octaves, unison, fifths or whatever the piece calls for. The instrument also has small tapping pads that trigger MIDI drum effects allowing Keith to take advantage of his unique tapping skills, adding a wall of textures to his compositions. The quality of the recording captures every nuance of his composing and performance skills with an instrument that sounds bigger than life. The diversity of styles represented in this CD is also quite impressive. There are the inventive ‘Wall of Sound’ pieces like “Northwest Passage” with a low C tuning, and the title piece “Encryptions” that suggests a film score. Other pieces evoke an eastern influence such as “Second Sun East” which showcases the percussion pads combined with a tapping style that is progressive and authentically powerful. Blues and Funk invade the layout with the song “Blind and Broken”, along with the first entrance of Keith’s vocals. He has a unique flair for placing the vocal pieces into the exact spot in the lineup where a little shift is called for. He then shifts gears again with traditional classics like his arrangement of Turlough O’Carolan’s Celtic piece “Blind Mary”, as well as the standard “Amazing Grace”, with a little Christmas flair at the beginning that I’ll leave for the listener to discover. We even get hints of a ‘Chet’ style technique in pieces like “Blues For Windsor #17, as well as hammer dulcimer mimicking works like “The Burning Oracle”, calling back memories of my first visit to the infamous ‘Carp Camp’ at Winfield, Kansas. Another
Listener Alert! – DO NOT expect to play this CD as background guitar performance. There is no way to passively listen to an unfolding of Keith Lykins’ art. Consider yourself warned.
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