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Steffen Basho-Junghans, "Rivers and Bridges"

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Strange Attractors
In addition to being an acoustic guitar virtuoso, Steffen Basho-Junghans also delights in painting, particularly landscapes. This aspect of his creative life sheds light on his latest album, a solo acoustic trip though wide-open country scenes inspired by his rural upbringing. Basho-Junghans (he adopted the surname of guitarist Robbie Basho in his thirties as an homage to his idol) approaches the project much like a painting, and the guitar serves as his brush, crafting swirls and flourishes of sounds that fall back in on themselves and reemerge repeatedly. Each of the six tracks serves as a movement, a simple element in a broader scene. The twenty-minute six-string opener, "The River Suite," begins with a light ascension of plucked notes, lifting the music up and across the rapid cascade of tones that begin to rush beneath it. The music follows the stream, building, releasing, pausing, lingering, and all developing over a repeated body of plucking. The repetition can be somewhat tiring, especially on the longer tracks, like "The Takoma Bridge Incident." Though the ideas are compelling in parts, they are exhausted by the end of the piece. The shorter excursions on the second half of the album seem to discover and convey their concepts much more effectively. "Rainbow Dancing" finds a clear melody, and stands as one of the more pleasant songs. On this track, Basho-Junghans switches to a twelve-string guitar, giving the track a lush, full-bodied sound that feeds the pastoral theme of the album. It sounds like how lying in a patch of sun soaked grass feels. Another advantage that "Rainbow Dancing" has is that it doesn't linger on so long that you grow tired of its ideas. The lonely melody of "Autumn II" is perfectly evocative of the wailing voice of a bluegrass folk spiritual. The weariness expressed by the piece gives off splashes of rust red and fading green, leading into the dusky "Epilogue." Though the span of the album may be marked with lulls, the higher points of Rivers and Bridges shine through. Basho-Junghans has produced a musical landscape painting, complete with the valleys and crests, shadows and illuminations; the subtle nuances that make a work worth seeing.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2005 09:44  


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