Attractors Audio House
Genres: avant-garde, experimental folk, instrumental
PO Box 13007
Portland OR 97213
Sep 26 - Oct 3 2004
For his 2004 release, Steffen Basho-Junghans continues to
explore the boundaries of acoustic guitar music, this time in the form of a
double-disc set. As usual, his experimentalism is daring without
being alienating - though each of these CDs focuses on a different
instrument (six-string and slide guitar, respectively), there's enough
continuity between them to make for a relaxing and surprisingly
accessible release. 7Books is background music for the
unenlightened, and vivid mind-expansion for those in the know.
The main criticism of 7Books will relate to how it compares
with his previous work - although the content is different, there are
many similarities. Over a lengthy release such as this, one can
become a bit bored with how little change there is. Basho-Junghans'
music certainly requires a high level of patience.
Assuming a conventional navigation through this disc (7Books
doesn't really lend itself to convention), we find ourselves beginning
with the album's first movement, an over eighteen minute composition
of what has been endearingly dubbed "experimental
folk." Instrumental and recorded live, like everything else
on this album, it meanders through various ups and downs - sporadic
outbursts of vigorous plucking, followed by silence, complemented by
complexly melodic strumming. The formula is there, but otherwise
the work is quite unpredictable - improvisation doesn't tend towards
rigidity. The same general approach is continued through the
rest of disc one, with obvious variations. Moments of the second
movement are positively inspirational - Basho-Junghans explores
the guitar's capabilities with multiple layers of sound, dripping
pretty chimes under louder, rhythmic strumming.
The second disc is a bit of a departure, as it lets Steffen
experiment with the slide guitar. Although this isn't the
instrument I normally associate him with, he doesn't seem at all out
of place. The plucking continues similarly, but the sound is -
of course - more fluid and whiny. Microtonal shifts come in
droves, giving the music a very dreamy, melodic sound. The
fourth piece, for example, contains some of Steffen's most
poignant material to date. Shifting, bleeding guitar notes are
assembled perfectly amidst the more jarring, chugging parts - the
results are whimsical and moody.
7Books marks another success in Steffen Basho-Junghans'
continuing legacy. It is the final chapter in his series of
interrelated acoustic guitar exploration albums, and makes for a very
fitting conclusion. Now, we're left to wonder: what comes next?
7 tracks, distributed by the
label, released 2004]