Baltimore Citypaper

Rafael Toral listed each guitar used to create each track on Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance in the liner notes, like the nerdiest of music-store nerds, but you’d barely know they were there most of the time if he hadn’t. The Portuguese composer takes the prosaic instruments of rock conquest–from a Roland G-707 guitar synthesizer to a Fender Jaguar to a Danelectro 12-string–and feeds their signals into a variety of analog electronics and effects to create a series of ethereal drone pieces. The result is probably the most stunning and unlikely solo guitar album you will hear this or any other year.

Toral has released several sparse, slow-blooming guitar-and-effects minimalism epics, but Violence of Discovery is his finest recording, in part because he focuses his efforts on a more intimate scale. A track such as the opening “Desirée” might overwhelm and cause mental drift at album-side length; at three and a half minutes, its lush northern-lights shimmer envelopes you, ravishes you, and moves on. Still, this is, more than Toral’s previous efforts, a guitar record. You can hear the contour and grain of actual straight-outta-the-amp feedback amid the shifting timbres on “Maersk Line” and “Liberté,” and on the closing “Mixed States Uncoded,” Toral unveils his biggest surprise to date. Picking his way through a tart and lovely chord progression like Jimi Hendrix lazing in the sun on heaven’s back porch, he rides a gently oscillating tone and some random space noise into the would-be hit single which experimental electronic minimalism has never had.
Lee Gardner