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Evolving amorphously from the New Folk tradition inspired by Takoma Records artists John Fahey, Peter Lang and especially Robbie Basho, Berlin's most enigmatic steel-string guitarist Steffen Basho-Junghans exorcises radically new voices and perspectives out of the acoustic steel string guitar. Possessing an impeccable instinct and insatiable curiosity, this innovative Berlin guitar master is on a constant search to discover new possibilities for the instrument. Casts aside the inhibitive shackles of theory and develops the basic idea via a meditative and utterly minimalist approach. Hypnotizing soundscapes emerge from the depths, enveloping and distorting any semblance of time to the point of blissful disorientation.
One traditional route toward enlightenment is to adopt a guru, a wise one who will show you the way. Steffen Basho-Junghans, a 48-year-old guitarist who lives in Berlin, never met his. But he learned every aspect of the late Robbie Basho's highly romantic finger-picking style, which is replete with unusual tunings and Eastern-influenced melodic progressions, and he even honored him by taking the former Takoma Records artist's name. Still, one must eventually leave the guru to find one's own path, and Junghans is entirely his own man on Inside. Despite similarities to the work of Brij Bhushan Kabra, Rod Poole, and of course Basho, his playing here is in a class of its own. He tugs hard at the strings, sustains ringing percussive runs, and coaxes koto-like glisses from his steel-stringed instrument. Junghans's technique is impressive, but never an end in itself; instead, he uses it to articulate hypnotic, propulsive compositions that are as intense as the best Hindustani ragas. --Bill Meyer
Top Customer Reviews
By A Customer on March 21, 2001
Format: Audio CDComment Sending feedback...
In the late '60s, the old parable goes, Brian Eno was in a car accident which caused him to be laid up for some time with a broken leg. During this time, a friend dropped by for a visit but didn't leave before putting the stereo on for the immobilized Eno, and, as it happened, setting the volume too low for proper audition. Thus began Eno's conceptual oddyssey into ambient music, blah blah blah. Similarly, "Inside" was recorded by SBJ after a gruelling bout with carpel tunnel syndrome forced him to adapt his playing style. With that as a guiding limitation, the minimalist tendencies of "Song of the Earth" on "Inside" predominate. This is some of the most alien-sounding music I've heard in a long time; the fact that it was performed in real-time on nothing but a steel-string guitar makes it all the more fascinating (although that's ultimately academic). But also, and uncannily, it's deeply emotional music, a forceful, insistent yearning propelled through a lattice of cycling hammer-ons and ringing harmonics.
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