Sky Dreamer's Gold by Steffen Basho-Junghans
By every account, Steffen Basho-Junghans of Berlin, Germany is a true master of the acoustic steel string guitar. As a player and composer, scholar, teacher and trailblazer, no living player has a resume as vast as he, nor has anyone so bravely and diligently challenged the tradition by pushing it radically forward. Over the course of nearly 30 years, Basho-Junghans has released 13 albums, founded festivals and taught seminars focused on the acoustic steel string guitar, and claims the most thorough archives of his mentor, the late Robbie Basho, on the planet. Of his many albums, Basho-Junghans has composed music steeped in the classic Takoma Records sound and revolving around Basho's American Raga music, but he has also forged concepts based on unabashed experimentation that has pushed the limits of the acoustic guitar into very alien arenas. Through it all, Basho-Junghans has secured his own distinct language, one that often speaks many dialects but is anchored in a clear vision of his own design. Multiple streams of singing steel have flowed across many landscapes, but with Late Summer Morning, Basho-Junghans guides a confluence of them all into one glimmering and gorgeous river of sound.
Much in the vein of his pastorale epic Rivers and Bridges, Steffen Basho-Junghans harkens back to the heyday of American Primitive guitar, as defined by John Fahey circa Fare Forward Voyagers and America, and the American Raga structures of Robbie Basho. "Late Summer Morning", the title track, is an unabashedly beautiful extended composition for 6-string guitar, stretching out languidly and effortlessly like a morning raga saturated in crisp, warming hues. With the steel string tradition as a steadfast reference point, Basho-Junghans utilizes unorthodox pacing, picking and rhythms as Late Summer Morning progresses. "Woodland Orchestra" discreetly harkens to themes of tone and minimalism as found on 7 Books or any one of his experimental albums, while "Azure No. 3" wraps glistening guitar lines into circular patterns to create lovely trance-inducing color wheels. A key component to Late Summer Morning, however, is Basho-Junghans' ability to strike out into the unknown while keeping the sounds and tones grounded, something that is evident as multiple sound forms hit the ear with calming bliss. American folk and classical, East Indian Raga, Native American linearity, the resonance of Middle Eastern folk and melodic Minimalism (i.e. Steve Reich) meld together in a fashion that is tremendously cinematic and allegorically vivid.
Steffen Basho-Junghans has tethered his elaborate language into a pristine wedding of sound, resulting in what surely is the most actualized summation of his musical quest to date. Late Summer Morning is "minimalist trance-folk", a modern masterpiece of where Guitar Soli has gone, and where it can go next.
Sky Dreamer's Gold by Steffen Basho-Junghans is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.