James Blackshaw: Litany Of Echoes

James Blackshaw: Litany Of Echoes

Even if British guitarist James Blackshaw just rustled up a mystically dense weave of fingerpicked tones on his 12-string, it'd be worth soaking up for an hour. On Litany Of Echoes, though, Blackshaw's patience and persistence make for six instrumentals worth sifting through several times over. "Past Has Not Passed," "Echo And Abyss," and "Shroud" each run about 12 minutes, and each twist apart their themes at slowly varying angles, warming up on the friction between familiar and alien. Much of the impact comes from the way the album was recorded: Not just notes, but also the stray, studio-unfriendly noises of instruments, build up and ripen to create space that welcomes and disorients simultaneously. Often, the blur of arpeggios competes with the melodies themselves, and so do the low piano notes and drones on "Gate Of Ivory" and "Gate Of Horn." Nothing's ever fully resolved or mined for all its possibilities, and maybe that's the trick. Blackshaw obsessively repeats and reworks his figures, only to prove that it'd take much longer than 12 minutes to exhaust any of them.

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