Book I (18:21) - Book II (22:40) - Book III (14:47)
After re-exposing his roots to the compositional acoustic guitar tradition with the pastoral, utterly grandiose Rivers and Bridges (SAAH010, 2003), steel-string guitar maverick Steffen Basho-Junghans ups the ante with his ninth album (fourth for Strange Attractors), a sprawling and vastly intricate double album entitled 7 Books. The final entry in a series of inter-related albums exploring a new sound possibility and approach to the acoustic guitar (Landscapes in Exile, INSIDE and Waters in Azure), 7 Books returns to the remarkable excursions into the heart and soul of the instrument that first raised eyebrows towards the Berlin-based artist.
With over two hours of music spread across two discs, 7 Books finds Basho-Junghans stretching way out, mutating the steel string tradition into the most elaborate excursion into sound and composition that has ever fluttered from his fingertips. Basho-Junghans' experimental works are microcosms of his chance discoveries with the acoustic steel string guitar, focusing in on a particular aspect of his epiphanies; 7 Books gathers all of these microcosms into one Big Bang, erupting into a vast universe of subtle and complex sound galaxies. 12-string guitar provides the template for 7 Books, and on Disc One, each "book" (composition) opens and closes with a deep array of chapters and passages. Chiming tones, pulsating percussive runs, finger scrapes and dazzling finger techniques build and build in raga-like fashion. Disc Two focuses on music composed with slide guitar, and Basho-Junghans' particular alien glissandos dance like refracted light, a gloriously disorienting sound broadcast seemingly from a foreign land. Tone, color, timbre, rhythm and space are explored and exposed across the entire expanse of the album, the music comprising a degree of intricacy that compels the listener to fully engage, for attentive listening reveals a host of various sound-worlds. All the more awe-inspiring when you consider that Basho-Junghans, as always, recorded 7 Books in real time, with absolutely no effects, implements or alternate instrumentation used.
Minimalism, Eastern raga, trance-inducing repetition, Spectralist tonal investigations, folk and American fingerstyle steel-string tradition coalesce into one astounding epic for the solo acoustic guitar. Steffen Basho-Junghans follows his instincts above everything else and discovers a myriad of universes within a solitary instrument, inventing a new language in the process. 7 Books is his most aggressive work, a startling mosaic of compositional sound discovery illustrating that the possibilities of an age-old instrument are still being revealed.