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Fractal Guitar 2

by Stephan Thelen

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    6 panel Eco Wallet CD cover. Let me know if you would like a signed copy.

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The making of this album, the successor to the first Fractal Guitar album, has been quite an adventure during quite a unique time in history. The journey started (although I didn’t know it at the time) on November 2, 2019 in Oakland, California, when Henry, Chris, Andy and I were recording tracks at MegaSonic studio. When I returned to Zürich, the world as we knew it soon changed drastically due to the quickly spreading Coronavirus. While it was a time to rethink the values that had governed our lives, it was also (thanks to the wonders of the internet) a disguised opportunity to record an album in lockdown.

As with the first Fractal Guitar album, I owe a great deal to all the fantastic musicians who play on this album, this time especially to Jon, Barry, Andi and Markus. Special thanks to Tim Motzer, Michael Manring and Bill Laswell, who were all part of this project, but only appear on "Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes", a companion album also soon available on this Bandcamp channel. Further thanks to my friend Anil Prasad, who introduced me to at least half the musicians on this album, to the Muir family for their generous hospitality at a time when traveling was still possible and to Leonardo "Moonjune" Pavkovic for continuous and unwavering support.

Stephan Thelen, Zürich, September 2020


Marcello Nardi, Music for Watermelons, www.musicforwatermelons.com/david-torn/stephan-thelen-fractal-guitar-2-moonjune-2021/

Mark Sullivan, www.allaboutjazz.com/fractal-guitar-2-stephan-thelen-moonjune-records


Bad Alchemy 110, www.stephanthelen.com/ba_review_fg2.pdf







Echoes and Dust, echoesanddust.com/2021/04/stephan-thelen-fractal-guitar-2/

The Big Takeover, bigtakeover.com/recordings/StephanThelenFractalGuitar2MoonJune

The Progressive Aspect,







Owen Diavies, dprp.net

Eric Porter, www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=22993


released March 9, 2021


Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Jon Durant: electric guitar
David Torn: electric guitar, live looping
Bill Walker: electric guitar, live looping, feedback
Stefan Huth: touch guitar AU8 (bass)
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, choppy organ, granular synth, programming


Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8
Jon Durant: fretless guitar
Bill Walker: lap steel
Barry Cleveland: 6 & 12-string guitar, filtered guitar
Stefan Huth: touch guitar AU8 (bass)
Andi Pupato: percussion
Manuel Pasquinelli: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, fractal guitar, formant swell


Jon Durant: electric guitar, VCS3 guitar
Barry Cleveland: bowed guitar, revox loops
Markus Reuter: soundscapes
Stefan Huth: touch guitar U8 (bass)
Fabio Anile: keyboards
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, e-bow, particles, keyboards, programming


Henry Kaiser: electric guitar
Chris Muir: electric guitar, live looping
Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Jon Durant: filtered and sliced cloud guitar
Fabio Anile: electric piano
Andy West: bass guitar
Andi Pupato: percussion
Manuel Pasquinelli: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, keyboards


Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Jon Durant: fretless guitar
Bill Walker: electric guitar, lap steel
Stefan Huth: touch guitar U8 (bass)
Andi Pupato: percussion
Manuel Pasquinelli: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, e-bow, particles, keyboards, programming


David Torn: electric guitar, live looping
Jon Durant: fretless guitar, cloud guitar
Barry Cleveland: 6 &12-string guitars, bowed guitar, chopped guitar, fuzz orchestration
Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Stefan Huth: touch guitar S8 (bass)
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, granular synth

Produced by Markus Reuter & Stephan Thelen.

Executive Producer: Leonardo Pavkovic for Moonjune Records

All tracks written by Stephan Thelen except: "Ladder to the Stars" written by Stephan Thelen & Fabio Anile and "Point of Inflection" written by Stephan Thelen & Barry Cleveland.

Recorded at various locations across Europe and North America between November 2019 and July 2020.

Recording engineer at MegaSonic, Oakland, California: Jeremy Goody.

Andy Brugger’s drums recorded by Reto Muggli at Powerplay Sudio B, Zürich, Switzerland.

Manuel Pasquinelli’s drums recorded by Benno Kaiser at his studio in Aarau, Switzerland.

Post-production and mix by Benjamin Schäfer & Markus Reuter for Unsung Productions, Berlin, Germany, August 2020.

Mastered by Alexandr Vatagin in Vienna, Austria, September 2020.

David Torn appears courtesy of ECM Records.

Personal notes from ST and a guide to the solos on Fractal Guitar 2 :

1. Cosmic Krautrock

00:00 – 01:27 Stephan Thelen (theme and sounds)
01:27 - 03:17 Markus Reuter solo
03:23 - 05:08 David Torn (theme and loops)
05:08 - 07:26 Jon Durant solo
07:26 – 10:07 Andi Pupato (percussion), Markus Reuter (soundscapes) and Bill Walker (feedback)
10:07 - 12:14 Bill Walker solo

2. Fractal Guitar 2

01:16 - 02:49 Markus Reuter: glitchy touch guitar
02:49 - 04:01 Stephan Thelen: fractal guitar
04:08 - 05:07 Barry Cleveland: melody
05:07 - 05:55 Stephan Thelen: fractal guitar
05:55 - 06:19 Markus Reuter: glitchy touch guitar
06:19 - 07:58 Jon Durant: fretless guitar

My Sonar buddy Bernhard Wagner pointed out to me that the opening guitar riff is very similar to AC/DC‘s 'Hells Bells‘, something that I still find quite amusing. But my version is based on a '3 against 5' polyrhythm, something that AC/DC 'probably' wouldn’t think of.

3. Mercury Transit

00:00 – 06:06 Stephan Thelen with Fabio Anile (keys) and Barry Cleveland (revox loops and bowed guitar)
06:06 - 09:10 Jon Durant VSC3 guitar
07:22 - 08:38 Jon Durant solo
09:10 – 10:24 Stephan Thelen e-bow solo over Markus Reuter soundscapes orchestrated by Barry Cleveland

4. Ladder to the Stars

00:00 – 02:30 Markus Reuter and Chris Muir (soundscapes) and Fabio Anile (e-piano)
02:30 add Jon Durant cloud guitar
03:56 add Stephan Thelen guitar/organ arpeggios in 7/8
04:10 - 04:45 Markus Reuter touch guitar arpeggios
12:32 – 14 :54 Henry Kaiser solo

Fabio Anile wrote a great bassline in 11/4 for his piece « Shifting Trains », which I – with his permission – used for a recording session with Henry Kaiser, Andy West and Chris Muir in Oakland, California, on November 2, 2019, which became the starting point for this track.

5. Celestial Navigation

00:00 – 01:14 Soundscape trio introduction: Bill Walker, Markus Reuter, Stephan Thelen
01:14 - 04:24 Stephan Thelen (particles, blue sky guitar) and Bill Walker
04:24 - 05:10 Markus Reuter touch guitar
05:10 - 07:04 Stephan Thelen (fractal guitar, e-bow)
07:16 – 09:08 Markus Reuter touch guitar
09:08 - 12:14 Jon Durant fretless solo

I got the idea for the main pattern of the piece while watching a video of Jacob Collier, in which he played a '2 against 3 against 4 against 5 against 6‘ polyrhythm with the 5 fingers of his left hand. www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9l7HqhJugA
I tried that out with my right hand on the keys of my DX7, putting my thumb (playing a 3) on an A, my index finger (playing a 2) on a B, my middle finger (playing a 4) on a C, my ring finger (playing a 5) on a D and my pinky (playing a 6) on E.

6. Point of Inflection

00:00 – 02 :30 Stephan Thelen (theme, sounds), Barry Cleveland (bowed guitar and sounds), Jon Durant (cloud guitar), David Torn, Markus Reuter (touch guitar)
02:22 – 03 :53 David Torn solo
03:53 – 06 :10 Jon Durant fretless solo and clouds, orchestration by Barry Cleveland
06:10 – 07 :07 Barry Cleveland solo and sounds, Stephan Thelen wahwah
07:07 – 07 :58 David Torn « blues » solo
07:58 – 08 :56 Barry Cleveland fuzz arrangement
08:56 – 09 :41 Stephan Thelen granular synth
09:41 – 12 :12 David Torn solo over Markus Reuter soundscape


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Stephan Thelen Switzerland

Stephan Thelen is a composer, musician and mathematician based in Zürich, Switzerland. He is best known as composer, artistic director and guitarist of the Swiss minimal groove band SONAR and for his composition "Circular Lines", commisioned, played and recorded by the KRONOS QUARTET. ... more

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