Waters in Azure by Steffen Basho-Junghans
Steffen Basho-Junghans of Berlin, Germany is certainly the most expansive guitarist working solely within the medium of solo acoustic steel string guitar today. Seeking to understand and absorb every language, every dialect, every ounce of slang that could possibly be uttered from the mouth of the acoustic guitar has led him on a diligent, far-reaching campaign of search and discovery. And the results have been fantastic. Waters in Azure, Steffen's latest exploration since 2001's lauded INSIDE (SAAH002), takes the next logical step beyond the minimalist free-raga of the aforementioned CD into further uncharted terrain…with even wilder, confounding, but no less gorgeous sonic results.
Waters in Azure is an album of sound sculptures, coursing through themes of structure, space and state. Inaugurating the album is "Waters", a winding, amorphous meditation upon waters' various characteristics. Broken into three distinct parts, the composition coaxes blissfully disorientating shrapnel from the guitar, slithering under Steffen's alien 12-string slide techniques. "Waters" dances drunkenly like a burbling creek, building, cresting, then breaking into a spacious trickle, only to swell again as it spills forth across some eerie landscape. Harkening back to INSIDE's raga-pulse is "Inside the Rain", the absolute centerpiece of the album. Shimmering fractals glisten with fantastic beauty, expanding determinedly towards an ecstatic plateau, propelled by the rhythmic, vibrant sparkle of SBJ's 12-string. "One no. 1" displays (to the extreme) Steffen's penchant for imposing limitations onto his technique as he searches diligently for new planes of discovery. Played entirely with only one finger on the left hand, what once began as a joke (inspired by exaggerated photos of players proving their chops via difficult chord structures) has evolved into a remarkable netherworld. This stark, spacious, otherworldly soundscape ebbs and flows glacially, chiming with tone and color across three parts. The subtly-shifting "Azure No. 1 - The Suntreader" rounds out the disc with a 'plain color' splash of incessant 6-string strumming. Multiple sound microcosms inhale/exhale methodically, manipulating odd tricks upon the ear from minute variations of attack. You would swear there was a keyboard in there! But no…Waters in Azure was recorded, as always, totally solo, in real time, with absolutely no overdubs, implements or effects used.
Experimenting with technique, form, and sound by merging minimalist composition, Eastern raga and the acoustic steel string/folk tradition pioneered by Robbie Basho, John Fahey and Sandy Bull, indifferent to the inherent disparity between those genres, Steffen Basho-Junghans transcends any easy pigeonholing to sit perched high atop a musical plane entirely of his own vision. Water is Azure is his latest volley at the gods and goddesses of sound, pelting them mercilessly with his elaborately foreign, yet utterly beautiful brand of minimalist solo guitar.
Discography: INSIDE CD (Strange Attractors), Song of the Earth CD (Sublingual), Landscapes in Exile CD, Fluer de Lis 1 CD, Fluer de Lis 2 CD, In Search of the Eagle's Voice CD, 12 String Solo MC (Blue Moment Arts)
RIYL: John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Loren MazzaCane Connors, Tony Conrad, Sandy Bull, Rod Poole, Derek Bailey, Joe Morris, John Cale, Bola Sete
Waters in Azure
Waters in Azure by Steffen Basho-Junghans is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.