david fiuczynski

Fuze shows off his Campbell American Transitone in his backyard while at home in Boston.
Photo by Rich Gastwirt.

The genre-fusing “Fuze” talks funk, punk, and the microtonal madness fueling the Screaming Headless Torsos’ new LP, Code Red.

Twenty years ago, David Fiuczynski was at a level most people only dream of attaining. He boasted blistering speed, superior funk chops, advanced chord knowledge, and a fluency in multiple idioms and styles. His 1994 album Lunar Crush—which he co-led with John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood—is what first made jazz fans and guitarists sit up and take notice. Even more paid attention when his band, the Screaming Headless Torsos, began recording, touring, and performing in and around New York.

Besides focusing on his sophisticated-yet-visceral approach, the attention garnered by Fiuczynski (aka “Fuze”) over the years has often centered on his incorporation of non-Western tonalities in genres with a Western foundation. And much of thathas to do with his gear. For a period he was an unapologetic abuser of his guitar’s vibrato bridges. And when the world music he studied in college inspired him to really dive in and experiment with microtones—the notes between notes of typical 12-notes-per-octave Western music like rock and blues—things changed even more. A 1992 gig in Morocco further opened his eyes—Fiuczynski realized some notes sounded better when you played them out of tune on purpose. He then experimented with fretless and quarter-tone guitars (instruments with frets added betweenthe frets), and transcribed indigenous music using tuning systems germane to those cultures.

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