In his own words: “I decided that I did not want a ‘cover’ CD as such, and would only record pieces which lent themselves to arrangements that could be both familiar and original. I wanted people to enjoy the pleasures that great recognizable music provides and be transported to new terrain at the same time.”
Chris has advanced the arts of fingerstyle guitar technique and composition with each recording, but with the stunning release Under the Influence in 2000 he raised the bar on arranging as well, focusing on the music of his formative listening years. He found ways not only to pay homage to each song’s origins, but also to take us into territory beyond that of standard Americana or normal tribute albums. With Under the Influence, the familiarity of the material welcomes us as Proctor’s singular arrangements surprise us.
Chris has always been known for his remarkable body of original works for six- and twelve-string guitar, his trademark counterpoint and inner voices, his technical wizardry and his pioneering use of the E-bow and guitar mutes. In Under the Influence, he interpreted songs from across the musical spectrum, preserving the distinct flavor of each piece with his senses of taste, economy, and proportion, while far surpassing its musical and emotional impact.
Recorded in a pristine audiophile setting, Under the Influence takes us for a swim in the diverse waters of Proctor’s musical youth. We surf waves of 60’s and 70’s folk, the timeless and elegant Baroque constructions of J.S. Bach, driving Irish jigs and haunting slow airs, bluegrass and Appalachian string band tunes, and treatments of guitar pieces from steel string titans Leo Kottke and John Fahey, all of which provide substance to the “Instrumental Americana” descriptive which critics use so often to try and capture his style. High points of the recording include:
- “Nights in White Satin,” the CD’s amazing opening song, begins with Chris’s unmistakable E-bow work and evolves into an emotional tour-de-force of guitar technique, musical interpretation, and arranging skill.
- “Ohio,” Neil Young’s lament for the students killed during the Kent State unrest of 1970, showcases Proctor’s fingerboard-tapping wizardry, and packs a musical punch that even eclipses the original.
- “Bach to Ireland” treats us to a medley from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto VI, as well as two beautiful, up-tempo jigs, “Cunla” and “Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife,” somehow making the Baroque-Celtic pairing not simply work, but even seem inevitable.
Proctor ventures effortlessly from Jethro Tull’s “Nothing is Easy,” the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and “Martha My Dear” to Byron Berline’s signature fiddle tune, “The Huckleberry Hornpipe,” and a wonderful revisiting of Leo Kottke’s classic, “The Sailor’s Grave,” displaying his unique palette of folk, classical, jazz, and pop sensibilities along the way.