BA"Bending Air" 2016 Finally! A return to melody. I've lately reviewed several tapping, percussive CD's with very little thematic material; just grooves and chord patterns. Now I get to review Michael Fix's latest release "Bending Air". Ahhh! (note to self - just end the review right there and extend the "h" to the last syllable allowable). Michael is from Australia and fell under the wings of Tommy Emmanuel (Fate?). After absorbing and mastering the concepts of fingerstyle guitar, he let his imagination take over. I feel a bond with this composer who travels the world and then expresses in compositions his feelings about places, events, friends, influences, everything! What you will hear is variety - there is no program. Some high end producer would probably try to make Michael's CD more focused. What Michael Fix brings to your table is excellence. He can play that guitar in his sleep, but then add his mind to the equation and the result is another great album. He just keeps pumping them out. My personal favorite is "Slip Away" which features his golden voice and flute; Makes me think of an Aussie Stephen Foster. That Maton guitar is wonderful. I wish that Michael would consider venturing to this western hemisphere more often. © Mark Bayer

bending air review by Greg Bush

"Lines and Spaces" is Michael Fix's 14th CD release since 1992 and once again displays his prodigious talents as composer, arranger and performer. The CD ope"Lines and Spaces" is Michael Fix's 14th CD release since 1992 and once again displays his prodigious talents as composer, arranger and performer. The CD opens with "Young Guns," during which a lively and seemingly comic array of instruments flow wildly from spaghetti western to Chet Atkins. The musicianship is top-notch but it's a frontal assault from this cast of players from moment one. "When Thuli Smiles" is a beautiful ensemble piece featuring Caribbean percussion which quickly changes the mood and presents some well-constructed and joyous themes. At this point the listener might be swayed to think that the CD will be mostly a group effort featuring various performers. A solo guitar morsel, "After the Storm," follows with a well-executed flamenco-tremolo and ushers in a quiet theme that conjures up a feeling of calm confidence. Back to an ensemble segment, a duo of guitar and flute (which I interpret to portray the titled "Butcherbird") execute and embellish a playful recurring theme. The duo continues with a variation on that motif followed by a dramatic and repeating minor key section, resolving slowly back to the opening (and closing) subject -- wonderfully written and performed. A mild slap on the hand to the person who mislabeled the CD jacket with the title "Happy Talk," leading the listener a bit surprised to hear "Blackbird" in the 5th slot. What we hear is a bluesy ensemble version of "Blackbird" with interesting variation of the original Beatle chords along with a chorus featuring Michael and female voices in a haunting stack of 4ths chanting "Blackbird fly"… "Happy Talk" does luckily make a later appearance, a captivating tune from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific rendered via a most happy boomchucka solo guitar. "Remembering Ray" is a nice tribute to Fix's recently departed friend in a 'Chet' style. The middle slows to seemingly a walk through diverse musical memories, then the first subject returns with a brilliant resolution. Very well written... and Ray must be smiling. "Silvertop Blues" sounds like Fix overdubbed two guitars and a catchy bass line that is maintained and expanded with some sweet guitar improvisation. "Bolero" is a true treasure of arranging and execution. Fix captures the essence of a work that is normally performed by a full symphonic orchestra. How he manages to ignore his droning thumb part while independently weaving the other elements leaves me aghast. The pedestrian listener might overlook the difficulty of this less flashy piece. His love of Ravel's masterpiece is revealed in his methodic transformation to solo guitar. The 'two brains syndrome' is exhibited in this very precise cover of the Beatle classic "I Saw Her Standing There." I imagine that Ed Sullivan would have liked this version even better. The CD closes with "Coppertown Blues," which could be the showcase work of a completely different CD and stands alone in style, drive and emotion from the rest of the album. It is quite stunningly executed and paints a harrowing picture of a dying town. I keep coming back to this one as my favorite although it contrasts with the balance of material. After several visits to this CD I question whether the artist might have considered making this a double set; one solo and one ensemble. In Michael Fix's own words "There is seldom a concept in mind," and the diversity of material on this release is indeed consistent with that statement. 
© Mark Bayerns with "Young Guns," during which a lively and seemingly comic array of instruments flow wildly from spaghetti western to Chet Atkins. The musicianship is top-notch but it's a frontal assault from this cast of players from moment one. "When Thuli Smiles" is a beautiful ensemble piece featuring Caribbean percussion which quickly changes the mood and presents some well-constructed and joyous themes. At this point the listener might be swayed to think that the CD will be mostly a group effort featuring various performers. A solo guitar morsel, "After the Storm," follows with a well-executed flamenco-tremolo and ushers in a quiet theme that conjures up a feeling of calm confidence. Back to an ensemble segment, a duo of guitar and flute (which I interpret to portray the titled "Butcherbird") execute and embellish a playful recurring theme. The duo continues with a variation on that motif followed by a dramatic and repeating minor key section, resolving slowly back to the opening (and closing) subject -- wonderfully written and performed. A mild slap on the hand to the person who mislabeled the CD jacket with the title "Happy Talk," leading the listener a bit surprised to hear "Blackbird" in the 5th slot. What we hear is a bluesy ensemble version of "Blackbird" with interesting variation of the original Beatle chords along with a chorus featuring Michael and female voices in a haunting stack of 4ths chanting "Blackbird fly"… "Happy Talk" does luckily make a later appearance, a captivating tune from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific rendered via a most happy boomchucka solo guitar. "Remembering Ray" is a nice tribute to Fix's recently departed friend in a 'Chet' style. The middle slows to seemingly a walk through diverse musical memories, then the first subject returns with a brilliant resolution. Very well written... and Ray must be smiling. "Silvertop Blues" sounds like Fix overdubbed two guitars and a catchy bass line that is maintained and expanded with some sweet guitar improvisation. "Bolero" is a true treasure of arranging and execution. Fix captures the essence of a work that is normally performed by a full symphonic orchestra. How he manages to ignore his droning thumb part while independently weaving the other elements leaves me aghast. The pedestrian listener might overlook the difficulty of this less flashy piece. His love of Ravel's masterpiece is revealed in his methodic transformation to solo guitar. The 'two brains syndrome' is exhibited in this very precise cover of the Beatle classic "I Saw Her Standing There." I imagine that Ed Sullivan would have liked this version even better. The CD closes with "Coppertown Blues," which could be the showcase work of a completely different CD and stands alone in style, drive and emotion from the rest of the album. It is quite stunningly executed and paints a harrowing picture of a dying town. I keep coming back to this one as my favorite although it contrasts with the balance of material. After several visits to this CD I question whether the artist might have considered making this a double set; one solo and one ensemble. In Michael Fix's own words "There is seldom a concept in mind," and the diversity of material on this release is indeed consistent with that statement. 

© Mark Bayer

tlTwo decades of touring the globe and releasing 13 CDs requires fortitude, tenacity and above all, talent. Australian guitarist Michael Fix's new CD "Time Lines" is a testament to not only his abundance of talent, but also his ability to write and interpret music that resonates and intrigues audiences. With a balanced palate of seven originals and seven covers, Fix has once again recorded a CD with something for everyone and an aplomb that ranks with the finest guitarist on the scene today. His originals "Light At The End Of The Tunnel", "Flight Of The Optimists" and "Sarah Jade" are the perfect showcase for the nuance and verve to which his fans have long been accustomed. He can express moments of exquisite beauty ("Sarah Jade") as well as transport a listener with undulating acoustic vibrato and rhythms ("Light At The End Of The Tunnel"). Often Fix seems to transcend six strings as many of his tunes and interpretations incorporate percussion and syncopated rhythms that create a sonic depth that are akin to 3D in the visual world. Fix's "Makhutswi" and "Canboulay" exemplify this experience as do his renditions of The Chantays' surfer classic "Pipeline" and a merry take on The Shadows' "Foot Tapper". These two covers alone should be vehicle enough to increase Michael Fix's fan base. Of course any YouTube savvy seeker of cool guitar grooves has probably already discovered Fix's acoustiatics from The "William Tell Overture" to Beatle classics and the aforementioned "Pipeline" which has long been a part of his repertoire and a oft requested number at his shows. The real surprise on this CD is Michael Fix's vocal work on Dire Strait's "Water of Love" and David Gates' (Bread) classic "GuitarMan". Who knew he could sing too! "Time Lines" may just be the vehicle to bring Michael Fix out from under the shadow of that other Australian fret Monster, Tommy Emmanuel. 
© James Filkins

classicfix_cover_small.jpgWith ClassicFix, Michael Fix takes a new approach to some beloved classical pieces, like "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," and "William Tell Overture." On many of these songs, Fix is performing just a solo steel string guitar, and his talent is undeniable. By adding flourishes like percussion, bass, strings, or even a modern bluegrass inflection, as he does in "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," the songs often go in new, unexpected directions. You'll recognize the timeless melodies, but be impressed by his virtuosity both in his performance and non-traditional interpretation of these tunes. Or check out his intertwining of Tarrega's flamenco classic "Lagrima" with the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black." It's a new take on a mash-up, and it totally works. These are fun and captivating performances that will appeal both to lovers of the classics, and to those who can appreciate taking classical music a little beyond its comfort zone.

classicfix_cover_small.jpgClassicFix (2009) Michael Fix's resume is replete with credits from his native Australia and many parts of the world, but he is a bit of an unknown stateside. In "Classic Fix," he tackles some touchstones of the classical world. Alternately muscular, fluid, and splashed with flash, Fix's playing is not your music teacher's classical music. In fact, his style is not classical at all, but recalls the playing of his mentor and YouTube duet partner Tommy Emmanuel. Fix swings "Variations on Bourée," sparkles on Monti's "Czardas," and does a Turtle Island number on "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." He fuses Tarrega's "Lagrima" with "Paint It Black" (yes, that Paint It Black) in a wonderful gypsy Spanish mélange. The exquisite closer, "Toccata," reveals that Bach was a shredder. Fix seems to harbor a desire to place these selections into a mainstream pop context. He succeeds in an almost That's Entertainment way. And entertaining it is. © Steve Klingaman

rewind_cover.jpgRewind   "...Fix takes us through the past 16 years and 7 solo guitar records, and we get to hear the ways he has bent, slapped, plucked and massaged the 6-string -- good for us... The CD opens with "Gully Breeze", where Emnanuel's style and chops are nicely refined with Fix's own accents. On "Bush Bash", he flatpicks up a storm while keeping a groove moving throughout. "Two Left Feet" wobbles and weaves as a testimony to his own inability to dance. Some fine Chet Atkins / Merle Travis thumb-picking drives "Something's Cooking"... Each song on the disc is played so cleanly, and like Emmanuel, melody always drives the song, never merely chops (though they are in evident display)."

Rewind "...Again Michael Fix made a superb album with the best of the past and 2 new songs played with fantastic skills in a wonderful ambiance."

web_of_dreams.jpegWeb of Dreams  "While this atmospheric CD is dreamlike, Australian guitar virtuoso Michael Fix keeps it real with his strong sense of melody and bold attack. Except for one of the best renditions of "Fever" you're ever likely to hear, all the compositions on his sixth release are originals. Some are straightforward jazzy or bluesy numbers, but most create stories in the mind, which is not surprising, as Fix has written music for movies. "Footprints in My Heart" has a '50s noir quality, augmented by Scott Brown's sultry flugelhorn, while the distorted reverb on "4 am" nails the queasy, fuzzy-brained feeling of a sleepless night. Jo Lack's soaring violin is featured on both "Passionfruit," which opens the CD, and the closing title track, which modulates from Fix's tender arpeggios to a hyperactive reel and back again, just like disparate dream associations that somehow cohere and make perfect sense."

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