John Shiurba, composer, conductor
Texts by Angela Coon, Chris Daniels, Beth Listick, HD Moe, Scott Rosenberg.
Guitarist John Shiurba is a composer and guitarist whose musical pursuits include improvisation, art-rock, modern composition and noise. Shiurba has recorded and toured the U.S. and Europe as a member of the bands Eskimo, The Molecules and Spezza Rotto, as a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the SFSound Ensemble, and in various improv settings. Shiurba has composed works for his own Triplicate and 5x5 ensembles, for the SFSound Ensemble, and for various soloists. As a guitarist Shiurba has developed a unique and personalized approach to the guitar. Through the use of extended techniques and unusual preparations, he expands the traditional sound range of the instrument, producing stunning, often unrecognizable results.
What the critics are saying:
"wildly creative guitarist... anti-jazz, anti everything else, yet utterly compelling."
"This is a stunningly rich and powerful release, the kind you will immediately hate or fall in love with. John Shiurba has assembled an impressive West Coast octet, featuring vocalists Lara Bruckmann and Morgan Guberman, drummer Gino Robair, and bassist Matthew Sperry (among others), and conducts them through five of his tortuous compositions. Hearing the violent, sharp outbursts, jagged edges, complex contrapuntal lines, and eerie use of operatic vocals in the opener, "Adobe," the listener is immediately reminded of Frank Zappa's orchestral writing on 200 Motels. Further listening reveals how true the resemblance is, but also how insufficient it turns out to be. Shiurba's writing pushes this side of Zappa's oeuvre into deeper territory, exploring instrumental textures ("Rita"), phonemic nonsense ("Short Reels"), and lyricism. Bruckmann and Guberman deliver a riveting performance throughout the set, their technical virtuosity completed by genuine passion for the material and, in Guberman's case, an in-your-face approach strongly reminiscent of Phil Minton's interpretations. Each piece is a collaboration with a different lyricist, adding a certain variety to Shiurba's otherwise homogenous approach. Some will interpret the previous sentence as a reproach, but the similarity of these five pieces actually makes for a constantly thrilling listen. Several other composers have attempted this kind of music, but very few have been able to match Zappa's flair and make it sound like more than an academic exercise. With Triplicate, John Shiurba certainly did."
—François Couture, All Music Guide