Nick Millevoi: The Shred King.
Nick Millevoi is a monster, a dexterous improvisational guitarist who shreds like he’s auditioning for James Hetfield’s seat in Metallica. He can also perform with the soft, aural scrawl of a Gary Lucas or a demonic, airy blues akin to James Blood Ulmer.
More often than not, those noises and nuances of his come out in a single song or a rubbery elongated lick. Yet, if Millevoi – a professional musician since graduating from Temple in 2005 – chose, he could save up each dramatic, avant-garde turn of his six-string for use throughout his numerous projects and parse them out individually.
There’re plenty of gigs at his fingertips. He’s got a solo career that finds him fingering a 12-string electric, and that yielded fruit last year when he released Black Figure of a Bird. Millevoi’s been part of the oddly-rocking Make A Rising (his most conventional teaming), putting out New I Fealing in 2011, in which he plays the Nels Cline role in Rising’s Wilco-like patter. Circles and Mea’l are two of Millevoi’s oldest inventions, bleak bands whose distant howling sounds are the stuff of local noise lore.
He also plays in Electric Simcha, a Hassidic punk band, and the Johnny DeBlase Quartet, an avant-garde jazz group. Bailly/Millevoi/Moffett, an improv trio with trumpeter Joe Moffett and guitarist Alban Bailly, released its debut Strange Falls just weeks ago.
As an improv giant, Millevoi is good for the chance meeting and the immediate encounter. He’ll ply that skill when he and Philly trombonist Dan Blacksberg, the duo that make up the noir-toned band Archer Spade, head to Oakland to play with legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell.
Archer Spade and Many Arms, the guitarist’s mood-swinging loud power trio, will take up the largest part of 2012. Many Arms is of particular importance to Millevoi as its newest of four albums, Many Arms, due out in March, was produced by Philly’s other noise-guitar kingpin Eric Carbonara. It will be released on Tzadik, John Zorn’s label.
If Many Arms is pure power – extreme in its tempos, Archer Spade is a slightly steadier proposition, with his avant-garde chamber music directly related to Twilight Zone-type sci-fi soundtracks. They work with outside composers, hence Mitchell’s involvement, and treat the work as more of a game-like conundrum rather than mere music.
“Each project is pretty independent, so putting it all together is a bit like a puzzle, both organizationally and musically,” says Millevoi.
Millevoi makes playing difficult music seem like a real joy (even at its bleakest, minor chord best). The guitarist says it all comes down to honest earnestness.
“For me, it’s about playing music – any type of music – in a sincere way and to the best of one’s ability,” he offers. “Sitting down to write a song is extremely hard if I want to stay sincere because composition of that sort isn’t at the forefront of my brain.”
That’s why he’s an overlord of improvisation. Nick Millevoi thinks best on his feet.