James Blackshaw | Litany of Echoes
Initially inspired by the guitarists of the 60's Takoma label to teach himself fingerpicking, London-based musician James Blackshaw writes pieces primarily for solo 12-string guitar that share more in common with the minimalist works of composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine, as well as French composers Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, than the blues/raga influence of his peers. Using drones, overtones and repeating patterns alongside a strong inclination for melody, Blackshaw creates instrumental music that is intelligent, hypnotic and unashamedly sentimental.
Blackshaw's previous 2007 album for Tompkins Square, The Cloud Of Unknowing garnered huge acclaim from all corners of the globe from both listeners and critics alike, receiving effusive reviews in Pitchfork, The Wire, The Observer, The Times, Uncut, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Magnet and Acoustic Guitar, and earning him a slot opening in the UK and US for Jose Gonzalez during fall 2007. The Cloud of Unknowing was also listed as one of the 50 best albums of 2007 by The Wire and Pitchfork.
Litany of Echoes, Blackshaw's sixth studio album in five years, shows a more mature, focused and, on the whole, accessible approach to composition. While the album often feels darker and more introspective in nature than on previous releases, many of the songs have a huge-sounding, classical quality to them. With Blackshaw adding some glistening piano work for the first time and Fran Bury returning to play swarms of sweeping string parts for violin and viola, Litany of Echoes is a truly original, affecting and timeless album from a guitarist/composer coming into his own.
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Check out James Blackshaw's other releases on Tompkins Square: