Steffen Basho Junghans: Waters in Azure (2002)
I have to admit it: the first time I heard Steffen Basho Junghans, I honestly didn't get it. Junghans is an iconoclast of the highest order. His solo guitar performances sound like intergalactic symphonies, weird extraterrestrial voyages through timbre and texture. One cannot fully appreciate this music by inspecting its meticulous detailinstead, you must zoom out to see the forest instead of the trees.
On Waters in Azure, Junghans takes a decidedly aquatic approach to guitar deconstruction. This music has a floating, trance-like quality, washing in and out in a decidedly tidal fashion. Junghans plays ordinary steel-string guitars, though they often sound like a harp, a lap steel, or prepared piano. These tunes operate along fairly regular rhythmic patterns, but the guitarist assembles interlocking units of sound to yield a vertical panorama. Stretching, sliding, and playing "incorrectly," Junghans coaxes harmonics and higher-order tones from his six strings. At some level, this music bears a resemblance to the rebel-folk stylings of John Fahey: simple melodies acquire color through odd picking and strumming noises. Bass counterpoint underpins a swarm of treble permutations. When you sit back and take the music in from afar, the multiple levels of repetition acquire a gentle, shimmering quality. Like the gamelan or any number of ritual musics from around the world, Junghans seems to be calling the spirits down to earth. Provided you can accept Waters in Azure from the standpoint of a meditative spiritual tabula rasa, it may just transport you to new realms as well.
Track Listing: Waters, Part I-III; Inside the Rain; ONE No. 1, Part I-III; Azure No. 1: The Suntreader.
Personnel: Steffen Basho Junghans, solo 6- and 12-string guitars.