When UK native James Blackshaw plays his 12-string, something spiritual takes place - the unassuming 23-year-old is transformed into a guitar god whose name belongs alongside the likes of Jack Rose, Steffen Basho-Junghans and Glenn Jones. Time after time, Blackshaw hits out of the park, consistently breaking boundaries in what could be conceived as a somewhat limited medium. O True Believers is the latest in a string of impressive releases, all with their own mood and inspiration. Consisting of mainly solo 12-string acoustic guitar played in a finger-picked style not dissimilar to Robbie Basho, Blackshaw has devised new tunings and new techniques, both of which are in full display here. The album is occasionally embellished with other instruments, such as the Hindustani tamboura and a specially tuned psaltery of Eastern-European origin called a cymbala. This is James Blackshaw at his most vulnerable and sincere, and with that comes two rare and wonderful qualities: truth and freedom.
Not since Michael Hedges shook the foundations of the acoustic guitar world 23 years ago with the release of Aerial Boundaries has a guitarist created such unique music as 25-year-old UK native James Blackshaw. On The Cloud of Unknowing, his sixth full-length album in less than four years, Blackshaw masterfully paints landscapes of sound with his 12-string guitar and a variety of alternate tunings. The CD begins with Blackshaw chiming rich harmonics from his paired strings, as if sounding a call to morning prayer, beautifully setting pace for the epic title track. In Blackshaw’s hands the guitar becomes otherworldly, and his music truly ascends to new places.
2009 release from the British 12-string guitar virtuoso. James started his music career by playing in UK Punk bands, but soon branched off into more introspective guitar recordings. James is joined on this record by Joolie Wood (Current 93 on violin, clarinet and flute plus John Contreras (Baby Dee and C93) on cello. Lavinia Blackwall (Directing Hand) is a classically trained singer and contributed vocals Beautiful six-panel fold-out digipak with original art by Nicole Boitos.
Brethren Of The Free Spirit is an acoustic collaboration between guitarist/composer James Blackshaw and lutenist/composer Jozef Van Wissem. Named after a cult of 13th-century Northern European religious heretics (they’re detailed in Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces), this duo play with an appropriately zealous intensity. Their first album All things are from Him, through Him and in Him was released on Belgian imprint Audiomer. The second album is released in November 2008 by Important Records. Brethren of the Free Spirit debuted in New York and went on a crusade through the Lowlands, Belgium, Spain, Ireland and London.