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How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi
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Tosin Abasi, leader and soloist of Animals As Leaders is one of the most innovative, original and modern metal guitarists around today. He always plays eight-string guitars on which he’s developed an incredible rhythmic approach that brings together many ideas from the bass camp, especially slapping. And it’s slapping that’s the core of the impossible riff on "An Infinite Regression" a track from their latest album Weightless. We asked him to explain how to play it.
Tosin Abasi, leader and soloist of Animals As Leaders is one of the most innovative, original and modern metal guitarists around today.
He always plays eight-string guitars on which he’s developed an incredible rhythmic approach that brings together many ideas from the bass camp, especially slapping.
And it’s slapping that’s the core of the impossible riff on "An Infinite Regression" a track from their latest album Weightless.
We asked him to explain how to play it.
The whole of the riff from “An Infinite Regression” is built on sextuplets. Mechanically speaking, the hands keep playing the same rhythmic and melodic pattern which moves between different chords, all with the same voicing, to create the melody of the riff. In other words, it’s an approach similar to the one used by Andy Summers of The Police in the “Message In A Bottle” riff but brought up to date and applied to the most extreme futuristic metal.
There are two patterns that make up this riff. Let’s have a look at them separately.
The first pattern consists solely of dyads (two-note chords). The tonic is played once and the other five notes that are used to close the sextuplet are played exclusively on the second beat, higher up. Let’s look at the fingering in detail. The first two notes are hammered on by the left hand. The third and fourth notes are played with an alternating movement of the right hand thumb which strikes the string with a downstroke and then an upstroke. An advanced slapping technique.
Then the last two notes are pulled respectively by the index and ring fingers of the right hand.

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi

Instead, in the second pattern, the left hand adds a note to the basic chord forms.
There are two chord shapes: Sus2 consisting of Tonic, 2 and 5 and a Power Chord, consisting of Tonic, 5 and 8. The melodic pattern is generated by the movement of the ninth that resolves to the octave. The right hand movement is, if anything, even more complicated since the chord now lies on three strings. The lowest note, the tonic, is played once only by hammering on. The fifth of the chord, which is on the second string, is played three times: the first time hammered on by the left hand; the third and fourth time by alternate slapping. On the third string of the chord, where the ninth appears first followed by the octave, the notes are played with the index and middle fingers of the right hand.

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi

As Abasi stresses, the main difficulty is to convincingly pick the four notes played by the left hand using thumb-down, thumb–up, index, middle finger.
The greater width of the eight-string fretboard certainly doesn’t make it easy to play Sus2 chords which need the left hand to do a certain amount of stretching.
We should remember that Abasi’s eight-string is tuned, from the lowest string, E, B, E, A, G, G, B, E as Tosin himself illustrated in detail in his previous lesson here on Accordo.


Here’s a complete transcription of the riff at the start of "An Infinite Regression".
After bar seven, the riff is repeated; so I didn’t think it was necessary to keep showing the chords. As can be seen the eighth string is never used and so a seven-string is fine for studying this riff.
Happy studying and, especially in this case... good luck!

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi

How To Play "An Infinite Regression" with Tosin Abasi


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