Nu Jazz / Jazz Related Improv/Composition / Third Stream / Dub/Ska/Reggae • United States
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Born May 12th 1959 in Santa Rosa, California, USA. He lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland as a musician, composer, producer and mathematician. He has two sons (Diego, born 1984 and Sancho, born 1987) and lives with his wife Katharina and her daughter Anna (born 1999).

Education: Studies in classical guitar; Guitar Craft Seminars with Robert Fripp (founder and guitarist of King Crimson) during the 1990s; studied mathematics at the University of Zürich (PHD in 1990)

Musical activities: plays or played guitar and electronics in various bands and ensembles in and around Zürich that concentrate on music at the fringes of rock, jazz, experimental and classical music. (Sonar, Radio Osaka, License to Chill, Broken Symmetry and Root Down). Many CD Productions (No No Diet Bang, Peter Schärli Sextet, etc.). Many Theatre-, Dance- und Filmproductions.

Since 2004 he has been concentrating more and more on compositions for modern Classical Chamber Music and since 2010
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STEPHAN THELEN albums / top albums

STEPHAN THELEN Boy On a Swing album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Boy On a Swing
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1997
STEPHAN THELEN Pulse Code album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Pulse Code
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1997
STEPHAN THELEN Wormhole to Paradise album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Wormhole to Paradise
Nu Jazz 1998
STEPHAN THELEN Into the Blue album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Into the Blue
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1999
STEPHAN THELEN Meltdown album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2001
STEPHAN THELEN Leave the World Behind album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Leave the World Behind
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2002
STEPHAN THELEN Broken Symmetry album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Broken Symmetry
Nu Jazz 2002
STEPHAN THELEN Vol de Nuit album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Vol de Nuit
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2004
STEPHAN THELEN Epiphany album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Nu Jazz 2005
STEPHAN THELEN Devotion album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2005
STEPHAN THELEN The Moons of Saturn album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Moons of Saturn
Dub/Ska/Reggae 2006
STEPHAN THELEN Chapter Five album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Chapter Five
Nu Jazz 2008
STEPHAN THELEN String Geometry album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
String Geometry
Nu Jazz 2008
STEPHAN THELEN Mise en Abyme album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mise en Abyme
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2009
STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar album cover 3.61 | 3 ratings
Fractal Guitar
Nu Jazz 2018
STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar Remixes and Extra Tracks album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fractal Guitar Remixes and Extra Tracks
Nu Jazz 2019
STEPHAN THELEN Stephan Thelen - Kronos Quartet / Al Pari Quartet ‎: World Dialogue album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Stephan Thelen - Kronos Quartet / Al Pari Quartet ‎: World Dialogue
Third Stream 2020
STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 2 album cover 3.57 | 2 ratings
Fractal Guitar 2
Nu Jazz 2021
STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes album cover 3.52 | 2 ratings
Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes
Nu Jazz 2021
STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 3 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Fractal Guitar 3
Nu Jazz 2022


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STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 3

Album · 2022 · Nu Jazz
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“Fractal Guitar 3” is of course Stephan Thelan’s third installment in his fractal guitar series. The overall sound of ‘3’ is similar to the first two, but there are changes as well. Whereas early Fractal installments leaned heavily on extended guitar solos, on 3 the emphasis now is more on composition and arrangement. There are still plenty of hot guitarists on hand here, but the solos are shorter and are used to add meaning to the arrangements. Whether these arrangements were pre-composed or created on a computer program after the fact would not make any difference to what our ears are hearing. If this music was playing in the background you might would only notice a cool groove topped with interesting guitars and electronics, but give the music a closer listen and you will hear how each track tends to morph and grow as it goes along. There is a sort of overall similarity to every track, making the whole album flow like one tone poem, but once again, extra attention reveals the individual nature of each song. The main thing each track holds in common is layered poly-rhythms that can recall music from Africa and Indonesia, as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich or Terry Riley.

Track 1 has the most guitar solos and also features a bubbling synth sequencer going through the sort of filter modulation that is essential to a good rave jam. 2 is one of the quieter tracks and drops the rhythm towards the end for some floating ambience. 3 uses a lot of drop breaks and has some insistent double time electronic interjections. On 4 we get layered sustained guitars as a sort of choir and some string parts taken from a string quartet that Thelan wrote. 5 ends with a long ambient break as if the album is ready to fade into the ether, but wait, there’s more. The final track is a bonus re-mix of track 1 with more focus on Elvind Aarset’s guitar parts.

The guitar work on here is outstanding, if you like the long sustained tones of Robert Fripp, Steve Vai, Phil Manzenera or Terje Rypdal then you will enjoy all the textures the Fractal crew conjures up, but probably the best feature on this album is the production. The sound of this album is near perfect within the digital electronic niche in which it resides. Every little riff, echo, guitar melody or keyboard interjection is arranged perfectly.

STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes

Album · 2021 · Nu Jazz
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“Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes” is the third installment in Stephan Thelan’s ongoing fractal guitar series, and as you can tell from the title, these are re-mixes of some of the tracks from the second album. The re-mixes have altered the originals so much, its hardly worth comparing them to the previous album, instead, its best to look at this re-mix album as an album that stands on its own with only a passing relationship to “Fractal Guitar 2”. Once again, Thelan presents groove oriented music in a electronica flavored nu jazz format, with plenty of all-star guitar heroes on hand to add soaring psychedelic solos and funky rhythm riffs. Some well known re-mixers are on hand too, including Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble. Overall though, this time around the emphasis is a little less on the guitar solos, and a little more on the creative arrangements of the re-mixers.

“Point of Inflection” is given three different remixes, with David Torrn’s version featuring hyper drumnbass rhythms and snarling processed guitar solos. The Stephan Thelan version is heavy in an almost industrial rock vibe, while the Laswell version is the most ambitious on the album with its multi-sectioned suite like arrangement and big cinematic sound. Bill has mastered the art of making his bass sound bigger than an orchestra. Elsewhere on this album, Jah Wobble’s mix on “Ladder to the Stars” features African styled interlocking guitar figures and Stephan Thelan’s Celestial Navigation has a hypnotic three beat groove topped with Frippian e-bow guitar solos. Barry Cleveland’s “Mercury Transit” features some very funky Alphonso Johnson styled bass work from Michael Manring, plus more e-bow guitar solos from Thelan.

This album is beautifully recorded and produced and features plenty of kaleidoscope electronic textures and soundscapes. “Fractal Guitar Remixes 2” is highly recommended for fans of artists like Terje Rypdal, Ozric Tentacles and Steve Hillage.

STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar 2

Album · 2021 · Nu Jazz
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“Fractal Guitar 2” is the second installment in Stephan Thelan’s ongoing fractal guitar series and it bears a lot of similarity to the first album, although you can also hear some improvement as Stephan and his returning all-star cast of electronic guitar heroes refine and develop their approach to modern day spatial guitar explorations. The emphasis on “2” is a little more focused on rhythm and mood, but you still get a good share of fret board fireworks from Stephan, David Torn, Jon Durant, Markus Reuter, Henry Kaiser and others. I don’t know how directly Stephan may have been influenced by contemporary African music on this one, but the carefully interlocking guitar patterns and poly rhythms bear strong similarities to today’s African fusion. Despite a healthy dose of great solos here and there, the real pleasure in “2” are those chiming guitar riffs that mix together and create kaleidoscope textures floating in a very welcome outer space.

The best tracks are the first four which seamlessly flow together as just one long song. The final two tracks are still good, but “Celestial Navigation” has a stop-start ¾ time feel that doesn’t flow as well as the previous tracks, and closer, “Point of Inflection” has a slightly different production that leans a bit in a rockish direction, although the song’s fade to ambiance does make for a good album closer. These are minor complaints and are only included so that this evaluation does not come across as too glib. Overall, “Fractal Guitar 2” is an excellent choice for fans of cosmic guitar and ambient groove music along the lines of Bill Laswell, Steve Hillage, Ozric Tentacles, Terje Rypdal, and Miles’ mid 70s band with Pete Cosey on guitar.


Album · 2018 · Nu Jazz
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The MoonJune label has earned a reputation as a leader in international jazz fusion, but they also maintain several artists who work in experimental and psychedelic rock, albeit often with a modern fusion influence as well. Stephan Thelan is such an artist, and has been working somewhat under the radar for several decades releasing solo ambient albums, modern compositions and groove oriented psychedelic group efforts. His latest album, “Fractal Guitar”, is one such group oriented album that features a rotating cast of guitarists and drummers who composed and jammed with Stephan over the last three years. Stephan then picked out the best tracks from several recording sessions. On the surface, “Fractal Guitars” has that space rock meets trip hop groove we might associate with artists such as Ozric Tentacles or Bill Laswell, but this album is more than just jam sessions. Moments of composition help offset tedium and Stephan and his crew often build complex interlocking rhythms that would normally be beyond the grasp of your average ‘jam band’.

Stephan wanted to invite some of his favorite guitarists to participate on this CD, and there are too many to list, but some of the better known include David Torn, Henry Kaiser and Markus Reuter. All of the cosmic guitar solos on here are excellent, and no one gets too carried away. Fortunately this is not a guitar solo slugfest, instead, much of “Fractal” consists of those aforementioned interlocking rhythms riding on top of polyrhythmic odd-metered dub and drumnbass influenced drum patterns. When it comes to this kind of sound oriented music, production is so important and the production on here is outstanding and very much in line with some of Bill Laswell’s best work.

If you enjoy artists such as Pete Cosey, Terje Rypdal, early 70s Pink Floyd, Steve Hillage and Nicky Skopelitis, then you know what to expect here, plenty of electronically enhanced fret fireworks reaching for the infinite beyond mixed with hypnotic ritual rhythm riffs.


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