The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Currents

November 9, 2012

Theoretically speaking: Idiosyncratic band String Theory releases CD

(Continued)

As the album continues to explore Gravitone’s existential morass, a handful of tracks offer pleasant diversions. “Leather Alice” sounds like a folk-tinged show tune about a real (and not particularly loveable) woman to whom Hoehn once sublet his house. “Minor Swing” is an up-tempo reprisal of guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt’s oft-covered instrumental.

But the music always returns to Gravitone. The final track, “On Being & Nothingness,” is a slow-moving and elegaic number that leaves the hero on the precipice of some decision. Hoehn admits it’s an ambiguous finale, but he said it won’t be the last listeners hear of Captain Gravitone.

“We left it open for a lot of possibilities,” Hoehn said. “We won’t revisit it right away, but sometime down the road.”

Sonic fusion

Overall, band members said the album represents the intersection of a wide variety of styles and musical perspectives.

Schmidt said band members describe String Theory’s sound as “jazz-folk-blues-rock-fusion.” Another apt description might be “notgrass” -- that is, music that retains some of the trappings of bluegrass (no drums, lots of banjo) but adheres to few of its tenets.

Hoehn said he prefers unconventional banjo players, those that expand their sound beyong bluegrass tunes. To that effect, Hoehn plays a six-string banjo that allows him to play a lower register of notes and different scales. Growing up as a lad who coveted Beethoven recordings for Christmas gifts, his playing and songwriting also retains a certain dramatic and symphonic feel.

After a long hiatus from music, Hoehn picked up his instrument again about four years ago and found a kindred spirit. With Schmidt’s background as both a rock guitarist as a youth and a classical guitarist in college, Hoehn found a musician equally interested in blending styles and embracing idiosyncracy.

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