World Fusion / Post-Fusion Contemporary / Fusion • United States
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Steve Tibbetts is a Minneapolis-based American guitarist known for an original approach to both composing and sound-forming. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1954. His first two records were created when he was in college. The second, Yr, although self-published, gained a degree of notice, especially from fans of the electric guitar. That record featured many overdubs, on one track as many as 50 overdubs creating a unique soundscape. Like some other artists, such as Brian Eno, Steve Tibbetts views the recording studio as a tool for creating sounds and often works and reworks his sounds, incorporating found-sound into finished musical tracks (such as the footsteps in the track "Running" found on Safe Journey, or the chanting of Nepalese villagers found on the last tracks of Big Map Idea).

The first record Tibbetts created for a major label was Northern Song, for ECM Records in 1982. This was an
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STEVE TIBBETTS albums / top albums

STEVE TIBBETTS Steve Tibbetts album cover 3.54 | 4 ratings
Steve Tibbetts
World Fusion 1977
STEVE TIBBETTS Yr album cover 3.47 | 7 ratings
World Fusion 1980
STEVE TIBBETTS Northern Song album cover 2.61 | 5 ratings
Northern Song
World Fusion 1982
STEVE TIBBETTS Safe Journey album cover 2.56 | 7 ratings
Safe Journey
World Fusion 1984
STEVE TIBBETTS Exploded View album cover 3.70 | 5 ratings
Exploded View
World Fusion 1986
STEVE TIBBETTS Big Map Idea album cover 3.60 | 5 ratings
Big Map Idea
World Fusion 1989
STEVE TIBBETTS The Fall Of Us All album cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
The Fall Of Us All
World Fusion 1994
STEVE TIBBETTS Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: Å album cover 3.17 | 3 ratings
Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: Å
World Fusion 1999
STEVE TIBBETTS A Man About a Horse album cover 4.00 | 5 ratings
A Man About a Horse
World Fusion 2002
STEVE TIBBETTS Steve Tibbetts & Choying Drolma : Selwa album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Steve Tibbetts & Choying Drolma : Selwa
World Fusion 2004
STEVE TIBBETTS Natural Causes album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Natural Causes
World Fusion 2010
STEVE TIBBETTS Life Of album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Life Of
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2018


STEVE TIBBETTS live albums

STEVE TIBBETTS Alien Lounge...Live 1987 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Alien Lounge...Live 1987
Fusion 2017

STEVE TIBBETTS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

STEVE TIBBETTS re-issues & compilations

STEVE TIBBETTS singles (0)

STEVE TIBBETTS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)



Album · 1977 · World Fusion
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Sean Trane
What a strange debut album! Maybe one of the most singular and mature album from a solo artiste who tried right from the start to create a music relatively free of constraints and musical rules/genre. Of all of ECM’s (his future label) artistes, Tibbetts is surely the hardest one to pigeonhole and this probably suits him just fine. Graced with a very strange artwork, this debut album had finally received in 95 a re-issue on Cuneiform Records and this was more than timely.

While there are still obvious influences heard here and there (Page’s acoustic Zep tracks on the opening Sunrise and Hendrix’s backwards tapes and guitars on the closing Buddha), the album has a wide variety of music from almost hard rock to ambient moments, from folky to jazzy influences. Tibbetts plays all of the instruments on this album bar the percussion instrument that one of his long-time collab Tim Weinhold handles. One of the artistes he bears a fair bit of resemblances, in a weird way, is with Oregon for the folk root, but an ethnic flavour often induced by Weinhold’s percussions.

Quite an excellent debut album, and the start of a long (but not really prolific) career, this album is really one of Tibbetts’s crowning achievement.


Album · 1984 · World Fusion
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Sean Trane
Tibbetts is now with a full group, but his music has not really changed much since the earlier Northern Songs even if this album has some real improvement on the rather boring afore-mentioned album.

Apart from the opening Test where Tibbetts’ guitar is showing just how vigorous it can be (along with the rest of the musicians), and its follow-up, the steel drum and kalimba-led Climbing the album slows down to the same kind of calm climates Northern Song. Again the guitar rises from naught in the Vision track, and apart from the mission, the rest of the album never perks my mind. Boring? Not really, but pointless, surely.

Again an album in which subtleties and ambiances are the main features, but there are hundreds (thousands?) of such albums, and this hardly one of the best, but not exactly the worst either. And if it was not in the Top 40 of its genre or in the Bottom 20, then please tell me what the point is with this kind of album? I think you understand, now. I rest my case.


Album · 1982 · World Fusion
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Sean Trane
Tibbets’ third album I believe and the second for ECM, this album is really a quiet affair where it appears that that the music will be all in the ambiances and sometimes very close to New Age music, like Deuter had done before him. Steve Tibbetts plays everything on this album but the percussions, which are handled by his long-time collab Marc Anderson.

Although I suppose that at the time Tibbetts’ music served a purpose and was maybe groundbreaking (I only became aware of him in the early 90’s), I can assure you that this album is nothing worth writing about than I will here. Ambient, new-agey, repetitive, almost boring. Not really recommended if you like dynamic and changing music


Album · 1980 · World Fusion
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Sean Trane
Tibbetts’ second album, Yr, is probably the album that every proghead has heard of and clearly the album’s reputation has reached many different music circles. Released for the first time in 80, this album will get another release in 83 with a better artwork and legend has it a different mix (although I was never able to get this confirmed).

Unlike his debut album, Yr, Tibbetts is having a whole group with him that include both Marc Anderson and Tim Weinhold on percussions, this album is still in the same direction as his debut broadly influenced and still not easy to categorize. Because of this, Steve Tibbets is generally regarded as a fusion musician, but not in the jazz-rock sense of the word. You can hear there are still some Oregon traces in his music (the folk orientations of many of his tracks), but it is also much more than that because of the electrical dimension of the music and some downright rock moments, and although not mentioned, there are some layers that suspiciously sound like Mellotrons on this baby.

Tibbett’s guitar work ranges from the acoustic folk to an almost guitar-shredder (check the closing of Ur), but one of the guiding line throughout the album are the ethnic percussions which ranges from Anderson’s congas and drums to Weinhold’s bongos and bells, but also two tabla drums giving an instantaneous Indian feel to some tracks.

Along with his debut album, Yr is definitely the album to discover this adventurous and almost-ambient guitarist. Much surprises ahead of you if you are to investigate these two albums.

STEVE TIBBETTS Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: Å

Album · 1999 · World Fusion
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Strictly speaking, Steve Tibbetts was the guest at this 1999 recording session, a collaboration between the Minneapolis guitarist and two kindred spirits from half a world away: Norway's Knut Hamre and Turid Spildo. It had to be a match made in musical heaven, combining the typically fluid playing of Tibbetts' (on acoustic guitar) with the evocative sound of the hardingfele: a rustic local fiddle employing a series of sympathetic strings to give it a rich ethnic ambiance.

The resulting album offers another fascinating example of Tibbett's active interest in esoteric World Music, in this case the ancient folk tradition of rural Scandinavia. In keeping with the unplugged spirit of the moment Tibbetts was joined by his old friend Marc Anderson (adding a sprinkle of hand-held percussives) and a small string section, including harp and psaltery. Together this multi-cultural ensemble creates a melancholy sound conjuring the bleak but beautiful landscapes of both the northern Minnesota prairie and the permafrost of backwoods Norway.

There is some beautiful music here, but 54-minutes are more than enough for a single sitting: after a while a certain monotony creeps into the set. This is an album that doesn't exactly encourage active listening, but it can provide ideal background music for churning butter, knitting woolen socks, or taking long, brisk walks across fallow winter farmland. Approach it in the right frame of mind, and be transported.


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