Richard Bishop

Salvador Kali: The Sun City Girls Solo Editions

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That this solo instrumental album from one of the Sun City Girls would come out on John Fahey's Revenant label isn't a surprise at all once one hears the opening romp, "Burning Caravan." There's the same sense of artistic reach, delicacy, and skill on guitar that one would expect from Fahey, but, of course, Bishop has his own particular obsessions and roots, which he showcases well throughout. Besides having a punning title, Salvador Kali also indicates the breadth of Bishop's musical roots from Europe to Asia and beyond, drawing much like his parent band on any number of worldwide sources and sounding like something he almost created out of thin air. Bishop plays guitar, harmonium, and piano, with no other guests necessary for his excellent work. Overdubbing creates the illusion of more than one performer, and such is his empathy for his work that it does often sound like a live duo or trio going at it. A variety of short and skillful tracks surface throughout, like the jaunty "Pedro's Last Ride," with a flamenco-touched lead line over a rhythmic series of chords, and the enchanting final song, "Morella." The total standouts are the longer ones, though, where Bishop shows off his chops without sounding like pointless technical flash at all. "Rasheed" is the first, its extensive acoustic midsection a lovely stunner in his brisk, constantly changing playing, from slower fingerpicking to sudden fretboard runs. "Al-Darazi," as could be guessed from the title, plays around with Arabic and nearby regional melodies, beginning with a heavily echoed piano part that continues and develops into a marvelous showcase for both the instrument and his own skills. "Kamakhya" mixes acoustic guitar with harmonium for an at once dreamy and sprightly performance, well worth the listening to by anyone interested in drone pieces even though it doesn't sound like a stereotypical drone.

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