Quirky and compelling.
—Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
I thought it was great. I've never heard anyone play the guitar
like that before. There's so much going on in there and it's quite
extraordinary to listen to—a lot of tremedous energy and that
real self-propelling rhythmic feel as if he had his own built-in
—John Fordham, BBC 3's Jazz on 3
Although "Moose the Mooche-Cash Style" features prepared
guitar, with paper-threaded strings that sound like a marimba made
with PVC pipes, the rest of the tracks are recorded with an unadorned
electric acoustic sound, remarkable for their panchromatic palette
of tones and textures: Hofbauer uses damped harmonics, slides, whammied
chords, radical dynamic contrasts and register leaps, tickle-scratches
and two-handed tapping to color and shade his musical images. For
all its variety, drawing on recognizable elements of jazz and other
musical traditions, Hofbauer's voice emerges here unique and distinct,
blending the comedic with the tragic—and having some serious
—Tom Greenland, AllAboutJazz-New York
What if a Joe Pass/Marc Ribot/Derek Bailey mutant were to record
a solo guitar album thematically based on common fears in modern
America? Eric Hofbauer's American Fear is probably the
closest you'll come to an answer to that question.
—John Garratt, PopMatters.com
Boston, Massachusetts is truly blessed in having Eric Hofbauer
as a member of its improvised music community. Over the course of
successive releases he has proved himself to be one of the great
original voices and this solo guitar recital proves it in spades.
He seemingly and effortlessly has forged a highly individual instrumental
vocabulary and this, allied with a harmonic sense that's by turns
sly and steeped in wit, is one of the hallmarks of his work.
—Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
...it's a very fine listen.The original pieces are short and well
chiseled, while the covers are doing everything they can to make
us forget the main melody without ever actually leaving them behind—the
best example being Hofbauer's reading of Tears for Fears' "Everybody
Wants to Rule the World."
—François Couture, Monsieur Delire
Comparisons with Derek Bailey and Bill Frisell still apply here
as Hofbauer plunders the songbooks of musicians such as Andrew Hill,
Johnny Cash, Charlie Parker and Fats Waller smashing their various
styles together in an acoustic guitar pile up that is both mischevious
and playful. Wedged between these experiments are Hofbauer's own
compositions bearing titles such as "Monsters In The Closet",
"Broke Down... Breakdown" and "American Wonder"
that burrow deep into the memory and refuse to budge.
—Edwin Pouncey, Jazzwise
Boston-based Hofbauer, who, in the last decade, has steadily asserted
himself as an original if not maverick exponent of the guitar to
be loosely aligned with the mighty Marcs—Ducret and Ribot—and
Tortoise’s Jeff Parker, provides a wily and at times engrossing
demonstration of those possibilities on this sequel to his 2004
set, American Vanity. Hofbauer skims right over the art-pop
divide by interpreting Tears For Fears (Everybody Wants to Rule
the World), Van Halen (Hot for Teacher), Charlie Parker (Moose the
Mooche) and Andrew Hill (Black Fire). But as successful as his deconstructions
and wry commentaries on these monuments are, he perhaps reaches
his creative peak on nine originals, the bulk of which actually
last no longer than a couple of minutes. Hofbauer is more than able
to pen a pithy little riff but he really hits heights as a soloist
when investigating timbres, and after striking up a guitar equivalent
of a saxophonist ‘slap tonguing’, he makes it clear
that he won’t settle for what his instrument can do when he
can explore what it really ain’t supposed to.
—Kevin Le Gendre, BBC Music
One of my favorite listens of the past several months is this quirky
solo guitar CD by Eric Hofbauer. American Fear (Creative
Nation Music) is a fascinating blend of recognizable tunes (from
Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" to Tears for Fears' "Everybody
Wants to Rule the World") to very short original works that
have splintered rhythms and fractured melodies.
—Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
What an accomplished and smart player he is! A must for guitarists,
and a pleasant surprise for the rest of us.
—Phillip McNally, Cadence
American Fear is his second solo album (following 2004’s
American Vanity) and presents an original player with his
own view of history. Covers of "Everybody Wants To Rule The
World" and "Hot For Teacher" indicate his musical
ethos was formed in the '80s, but versions of Hank Williams'“
"Blue Highway" and Andrew Hill's "Black Fire"
show he goes a lot deeper than that.The fact that his originals
sound both improvised and composed proves his creative impulse is
wide. Technically Hofbauer can obviously play the standard jazz
guitar game, but it's clear he doesn't want to be hemmed in by the
clichés of its tradition.
—Robert Iannapollo, Signal to Noise