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James Blackshaw / Live Preview

LA Weekly / Randall Roberts

That more people don’t know about 12-string guitarist James Blackshaw is one of the great failures of the Information Age. Hyperbole, sure, considering he’s only 28. Still, over the course of six albums of solo instrumental recordings, the British-born Blackshaw has crafted some of the deepest, most durable acoustic music since John Fahey and Sandy Bull.

http://www.laweekly.com/2009-02-19/music/music-picks-thurston-moore-james-bl
ackshaw-lisa-hannigan-modest-mouse/

LA Weekly

Live Preview

February 18, 2009

James Blackshaw, Grails at Spaceland

By Randall Roberts

That more people don’t know about 12-string guitarist James Blackshaw is one
of the great failures of the Information Age. Hyperbole, sure, considering
he’s only 28. Still, over the course of six albums of solo instrumental
recordings, the British-born Blackshaw has crafted some of the deepest, most
durable acoustic music since John Fahey and Sandy Bull. Like those twin
giants of late-20th-century instrumental guitar, Blackshaw’s fingers contain
multitudes. Melody lines swirl as the 12 strings create chiming overtones
that Blackshaw seems to bend and twist as they float through the air; it’s
hard to believe it’s all happening simultaneously, this gilded palace of
notes. But the best thing about Blackshaw’s work — besides its simple
beauty, of course — is that the artist isn’t stuck in some sort of
traditionalist muck. He brings in synthetic tones from time to time, is cool
with creepy drones weaving through his finger runs, and somehow manages to
recall in all of this not only Fahey and the Tacoma Records school but also
Kraftwerk and the Cologne school, Stereolab and the Too Pure school, and
Reich and the minimalist school. Blackshaw got his start stateside on the
estimable Tompkins Square imprint, but his forthcoming album, The Glass Bead
Game, will arrive on Michael Gira’s Young God Records. Opening will be
Portland, Oregon, psychedelic instrumental band Grails, also from the Fahey
wellspring, but with more sitar and overall Indian vibe. This should be a
mystical night overall, in fact.

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