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JAMES BLACKSHAW – THE GLASS BEAD GAME Review

The Big Takeover / Michael Toland

Prolific London guitarist JAMES BLACKSHAW has attracted quite a following not only amongst guitar aficionados, but also those who usually eschew six-string noodles. The Glass Bead Game is a good indication why

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The Big Takeover


JAMES BLACKSHAW – THE GLASS BEAD GAME (YOUNG GOD)

by Michael Toland

17 May 2009

Prolific London guitarist JAMES BLACKSHAW has attracted quite a following
not only amongst guitar aficionados, but also those who usually eschew
six-string noodles. The Glass Bead Game is a good indication why. Blackshaw
sees the guitar as a tool for conveying his melodic ideas, not a method of
showing off his technique. His compositions revolve around circular figures
that repeat, mantra-like, until they fill the room with sparkling sound.
Influenced as much by classical music as by folk, Blackshaw creates slowly
unfolding tracks that beckon gently but insistently, until we’ve no choice
but to follow. Interestingly, this record finds Blackshaw expanding beyond
his usual 12-string acoustic, using piano as the basis for “Fix” and “Arc,”
and incorporating strings and wordless voices into his arrangements. The
results are works of gentle power and sublime beauty. Ultimately, The Glass
Bead Game has arguably less in common with JOHN FAHEY or BERT JANSCH than
with contemporary compositional artists like ELUVIUM or EXPLOSIONS IN THE
SKY, which gives Blackshaw a less limited platform on which to grow
exponentially.

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