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Tim Henson showcases the dizzying complexity of Polyphia’s new single in ABC riff playthrough

Tim Henson
(Image credit: Tim Henson/YouTube)

Last week, Polyphia continued to build anticipation for their upcoming album Remember That You Will Die by dropping ABC – the quartet’s latest single, which debuted one of Scott LePage and Tim Henson’s most impossibly complex riffs yet.

In a track where Henson’s playing was matched – and almost surpassed – by the vocal acrobatics of guest star Sophia Black, the Ibanez ambassador pulled out all the stops to deliver yet another head-scratching hook that left many both in awe and in fear by the prospect of learning it.

Seemingly in response to these sentiments, Henson has posted a video on YouTube that sees him perform the ABC riff, which puts on display the guitar pioneer’s absurd compositional and technical skills.

On the fretboard of his custom Ibanez nylon-string acoustic guitar, Henson makes his way unaccompanied through the hook, pronouncing every single harmonic chime and whirlwind phrase with immaculate precision.

It’s genuinely a blink-and-you’ll-miss it riff, so with that in mind, Henson does everyone a favor and slows his metronome right down for a slower run-through, putting under the microscope the many deft touches and nuanced passing notes that could fly under the radar the first time round.

So, not only is this a demonstration of Henson’s ingenuity, it’s also probably the best chance any plucky player may have of learning the riff from the Polyphia man himself.

Unlike Polyphia’s previous singles – Playing God and Neurotica – Henson hasn’t recorded a full-length playthrough of ABC. Following both previous tracks’ release, Henson dropped unplugged Playing God and full-band Neurotica renditions.

During a recent conversation with Total Guitar, Henson broke down the philosophy behind his innovative compositions, saying, “I’ve been a firm believer, even before I picked this [Ibanez guitar] up, that when you compose something, it should sound good and complete in its most bare state.

“Once it sounds good by itself, you can add whatever you want in post-production, or move it to a guitar with a whammy bar,” he continued. “If it sounds good on [a nylon-string], it’s most likely going to sound good on anything.”

Polyphia’s upcoming album, Remember That You Will Die (opens in new tab), arrives October 28, and will feature guest appearances from Steve Vai, Chino Moreno and more.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.