John Fahey

Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice)

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This early-'70s effort by the great fingerpicking solo guitarist actually defies what has come to be known as the "Swami Satchidananda rule for guitarists." Without naming any names, it has been observed in the past that when a guitarist decides to make a recording in tribute to the Swami -- who was quite the subject of idolatry in this time period among certain performers -- the results are usually among the worst in that artist's discography. Not so for Fahey, who didn't strike most of his fans as the type who would want to have a guru, anyway. Perhaps this is his album that is most influenced by Indian classical music, judging from some of the tunings and scales used. A particularly nice feature of this recording is how long each piece is allowed to stretch out, something the music definitely needs and again shares in common with Indian ragas. Unlike ragas, though, the compositions are something in the order of unpredictable miniature symphonies, each with different sections, variations, and developments. Engineer Jim Hobson got a superb sound on the guitar; the brightly ringing high strings is something that can be heard on many Fahey recordings, but the deeply rich bass string sound is distinct and particularly effective.

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