Steffen Basho-Junghans

Waters in Azure

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It's hard to say if Basho-Junghans will be spoken of in later generations with the same revered awe given to John Fahey, Sandy Bull, or namesake/inspiration Robbie Basho, but the German guitarist continues to demonstrate why his work could hold that promise on Waters in Azure. Consisting of four tracks, two of them being multi-part pieces, Waters in Azure in Basho-Junghans' own words draws inspiration from both liquid and color, "related to structure, space, and state." One need not know the philosophical inspirations to feel the striking passion of the recording, though; the slashing, sudden bursts interspersed with the nervous, live-wire twang of the first part of "Waters" is enough to demonstrate the album's appeal. The opening part of "One" is equally fascinating; Basho-Junghans states in the liner notes that the track started as a joke (one finger from the left hand, nothing else), but the end result, a rising and falling mantra of sound, is anything but. The influence of the earlier Basho is readily apparent given Basho-Junghans' open love of Asian melodic scales and approaches, though the younger performer exclusively concentrates on music here without vocals. The balance of that with a bluesy pace and setting at many points, if not a direct blues-based performance, suggests Idyll Swords and the Black Twig Pickers, if in an idiosyncratic, almost rarified way, while "Azure No. 1" could almost be the guitar equivalent to early Steve Reich playing a skipping CD. Other strong, striking moments include the relentless but always breathtakingly beautiful "Inside the Rain," one of the most intense acoustic pieces by anyone, and the dramatic concluding third part to "One," making for a great ending to that particular sequence down to the last sudden taps and strums.

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