Steffen "Basho" Junghans has emerged over the last few years as one of the most provocative explorers of the acoustic guitar universe. Initially viewed as just another-German-trying-to-swallow-the-sun, Junghans' compressed visions for guitar's expanded horizons have now achieved such a magnificent alchemical balance, that his identity-as-performer has assumed its own monstrously iconoclastic shape.

Inside is a suite in five ostensible parts. Some are linked via constructive tropes. Others exist in their own spectral aether, huzzing like clouds of past-due ambrosia vomited into the heavens by dizzy goddesses. For a while it has been clear that Junghans' compositional concepts have made an end run around those of his nominal model -- the late Robbie "Basho" Robinson. But the inventions on Inside are more radical than anything that has gone before them, and the quivering spirit wheels of Steffen's strings are comparable in places to nothing except the earliest recorded improvisations of Loren Mazzacane Connors. But Connors' protean work was "recognizable" in the sense that it was blues-based. Junghans' music can seem even more "alien," since it appears to evolve from some of the Eastern tunings favored by Robinson. Regardless of the differences between their stylistic husks, all three of these guitarists share access to powerful depths of emotion. Many composers and players are hacks, telegraphing their intent w/ moves so banal that they lack real meaning for anyone w/ half a mind. Junghans (like Connors and Robinson) communicates oceans of joy and fear and sorrow and transcendence w/o cheapening his language. The sentiments that roll off of his strings can seem almost hermetically personal, but they actually function w/ a near-platonic universality that should guide their arrows straight into the pineal glands of all enlightened listeners.

With the release of Inside, Steffen has continued his attack on the death dwarves that surround all of us. Let us hope that the flaming ring of his soul continues to cast its white hot radiance for many seasons to come. Hell must be a very cold place.

--Byron Coley
Deerfield MA 2000