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Apparent simplicity can often disguise depth of thought. Guitarist Steffen Basho-Junghans demonstrates this point convincingly on his new disc, double-entendred Inside.. Recorded live to tape, this performance relies on resonance, stark repetition, juxtaposed rhythmic units, and ornamentation to achieve its effects. Basho-Junghans abandons any conventional sense of melody or harmony, instead structuring his music upon gradual tonal development.
The double meaning of the title refers at once to the music's authentic trance-like character and the ironically "outside" nature of the guitar technique employed along the way. Basho-Junghans uses unorthodox tapping, stretching, and picking styles to expand his guitar's vocabulary into the realms of microtones, percussive attack, and small-interval textures. Apt comparisons include John Fahey's unswerving deliberateness and Leo Kottke's attention to rhythmic construction. But Basho-Junghans has developed a style all his own. And it's anything but passive: these compositions stand as an antithesis to New Age.
Inside does not promise universal appeal. It's clearly an experimental record, both in its exploration of tone and its focus on small-interval dynamics. But the open-eared listener willing to appreciate Basho-Junghans's eclecticism will find his music vibrant and pulsing with quiet energy. In much the same way that Eastern trance music draws upon repetition to enable meditation, Inside suggests an otherworldly sonic universe with its own organic pulse.
Track Listing: 1st Movement; 2nd Movement, Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; 3rd Movement.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...