Pamela Stein sings vocals on composer and guitarist Alexander Turnquist’s latest album Flying Fantasy, released June 10th on the Western Vinyl label.
As an accomplished 12-string guitarist/composer, Alexander Turnquist was naturally alarmed when the ulnar nerve in his left hand seized up in 2013, but after a surgical procedure he gratefully started the process of learning to play guitar again. His recovery was cut short when not long after the surgery he was hospitalized with meningitis. Though his recovery is ongoing, and he continues to struggle with a weakened immune system and memory loss, he was inspired to soldier on, rather than being deterred by his physical struggles.
Turnquist’s latest full-length Flying Fantasy confirms the idea that out of great hardship can come great art. As he wrote the material for the new album it became clear that his sensitivity had sharpened, his empathy magnified, and his sense of purpose blossomed. The unfortunate circumstances he endured ostensibly forced his metamorphosis from a remarkable guitar player to a truly great composer. Much like the butterflies that adorn the album cover, he seems to have changed form and taken flight.
The album opens with the sparse harmonics of “House of Insomniacs”, which are soon joined by lush swells of vibes, cello, and even wordless vocals. On the tracks that follow, Turnquist continues to make use of this dynamic sonic pallet, even adding organ, piano, marimba, steel drums, violin, and french horn to the mix. From “Red Carousel”, which was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, to the somber lilt of the love song “Wildflower”, to the truly arresting title track “Flying Fantasy” which uses only 4 open strummed guitars and loops of damaged tape and wire recorders, every note of Flying Fantasy vibrates with life as Turnquist ushers us though his intoxicatingly colorful worlds of sound.