JAMES BLACKSHAW/THE GLASS BEAD GAME/ReviewThe Glass Bead Game is a beautiful homed, melodic and atmospheric collection of instrumental tracks from english guitarist & pianist James Blackshaw.
by Roger Batty
The Glass Bead Game [Young God Records - 2009]
The Glass Bead Game is a beautiful homed, melodic and atmospheric collection of instrumental tracks from english guitarist & pianist James Blackshaw. This is mood music that’s real, heart-felt and nostalgic yet never bland, wish-washy or insincere.
The five tracks here are fairly evenly split between piano & 12 string acoustic guitar based tracks, which are often embossed and elegantly decorated by lush yet never overbearing string and wind instrumentation. For the extra instrumentation textures, grace and sonic wonder Blackshaw brought in the following: James Joolie Wood(of Current 93 and Simon Finn) on violin, clarinet and flute, John Contreras(of Baby Dee and C93) on cello & Lavinia Blackwall (of Directing Hand) who adds her rich classically trained vocals to a few tracks too. Each track here is a sonic mixture of lush, warming and dramatic genre traits taking in; folk colours, classical guitar grace, rich modern classical flare and joyful repetition, felt cinematic tone and joyful/ crystalline country strum & pick. With Blackshaw weaving each track with a rich melodic and timeless pattern/tune that will hum and grace your thoughts long after the record has finished.
Put simply The Glass Bead Game has everything a great instrumental record should have: splendid & memorable melodies, perfectly played & arranged instrumentation, and a timeless, human quality that comes straight from the heart. Really an album that will appeal to anyone who enjoys beautiful crafted & harmonic music.