Album Review

Garden of Forking Paths, The [coll] – [Important Records]

Jawbone   3/18/2008   A Library, CD

Young British steel string guitar stalwart James Blackshaw solicited artists he knows and respects to appear on this very nice Important Records collection; his goal: to compile ???experimental music for solo stringed instruments, with little to no overdubs???. The result: a very cohesive, yet always interesting, imaginative, reflective string extravaganza.

1. Chieko Mori (koto)- ???Spiral Wave???(5:48) Bluesy, loping koto, slowly building up in layers, forming a jigsaw puzzle in the mind, with three-dimensional kaleidoscopic aural pieces.

2. James Blackshaw (guitar)- ???The Broken Hourglass??? (10:48) As the title suggests: a timeless piece, morphing through many tempos, with graceful assuredness and a tinge of a broken heart.

3. Helen Espvall (cello)- ???Home of Shadows and Whirlwinds??? (10:16) Espers cellist delivers another appropriately titled piece that darkly dips and dives through deserted mansions and abandoned cemeteries with an experimental wistfulness.

4. Jozef van Wissem (lute)- ???The Mirror of Eternal Light??? (14:05) Dutch Renaissance lute player known for reinventing and deconstructing the genre by using mirror or palindrome techniques (playing combinations of compositions forward, then backwards) and using subtle electronic sound manipulation. Fascinating.

5. Chieko Mori (koto)- ???Tokyo Light??? (6:04) A quiet, peaceful piece that beautifully demonstrates the traditional bent-note sound of the koto.

The title of the compilation is taken from Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges’ famous wartime short story that delves into double spies, labyrinths and quantum mechanics.


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