As suggested by the previously posted “Infinite Circle,” James Blackshaw’s gorgeous Litany Of Echoes found the London-based guitarist mixing piano into haunting, pristine 12-string compositions. We haven’t heard all of Blackshaw’s Hermann Hesse-referencing The Glass Bead Game, his first collection for M. Gira’s Young God Records, but so far it sounds like he’s continued finding ways to add depth and feeling to his playing (as if that seemed possible after he got it all right on 2007’s The Cloud of Unknowing). As Gira notes in a press release:
James has received a lot of attention lately as a prodigy/virtuoso of the 12 string guitar, but he’s anything but showy. He lays out patterns and shapes that subtly shift over time and lead you to a deeply satisfying mental state. Recently, driving around with the car stereo blasting his music I found myself inexplicably weeping. Why??? The music’s not sad, or even mournful really. It’s just exquisite in an ineffable way, and taps into a place, a dream place, or a pre-thought place, which each of us might recognize was always there inside of us and is suddenly revealed. Like coming home after a painful journey, I suppose…
Take a listen to an edit of the 8-minute “Cross,” see if you can tap into anything.
James Blackshaw – “Cross (Edit)” (MP3)
That’s just a fragment, but still. Really looking forward to hearing “Arc,” which Gira describes as such:
The 18 minute-plus gem on this record … performed on piano with the sustain peddle on full throttle, and the rush of sound created by the overtones-from-heaven, augmented by strings and wind, when played at proper (full) volume, is one of the most thrilling pieces of music I’ve heard in years.
Yes, Gira runs the label putting it out. Still, I trust the man because he’s not only one of the most honest folks in the business, but also because he introduced much of the world to Akron/Family, Larkin Grimm, pre-suck Devendra Banhart, and, of course, his own Swans and Angels Of Light, among others. Now listen to the above again.
The Glass Bead Game is out 5/26 via Young God.