Search - Robbie Basho :: Guitar Soli

Guitar Soli
Robbie Basho
Guitar Soli
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, New Age, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Robbie Basho, a guitarist active in the 1960s who passed away in 1986, played his instrument with what you might call a visceral spirituality: his music is spooky, intense, and experimental at the same time that it is soot...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Robbie Basho
Title: Guitar Soli
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Takoma
Original Release Date: 12/20/1996
Re-Release Date: 9/3/1996
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, New Age, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, Experimental Music, Meditation
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 025218890229

Robbie Basho, a guitarist active in the 1960s who passed away in 1986, played his instrument with what you might call a visceral spirituality: his music is spooky, intense, and experimental at the same time that it is soothing and transportive. Listening to his music, one is keenly aware of the sound of his fingers as they mellifluously pick and strum, and of the strange tunings at work, but one is also carried out of body. Really. Basho has been called "the father of New Age guitar," but why anyone would want to blame this subtle and masterful musician for the sins of his followers is a mystery. This is an excellent compilation of Basho's early work from the mid-'60s--it steers mercifully clear of Basho's whistling and bizarre "singing," for instance. Nothing from either of the long out-of-print, late-'60s Falconer's Arm albums was included, which is unfortunate as they are likely his most intense recordings (perhaps they will be issued as a disc of their own?). Basho's genre-bending acoustic guitar playing is on the surface similar to the work of John Fahey, Sandy Bull, and Rick Bishop, but his music is highly original, and demands to be heard. --Mike McGonigal

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CD Reviews

Expression is the Aim
chrisjr | Orlando, FL United States | 11/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Robbie Basho is always lumped in with Leo Kottke and John Fahey since he shared the Takoma label and was an innovative talent himself, however it's not fair to compare Robbie Basho to either aforementioned guitarist. Basho has been referred to as "psychedelic" and "spiritual". His compositions don't draw on the same roots as Kottke or Fahey, and though his raw passionate sound certainly parallels the power of Kottke's plucking and Fahey's experimental out standings, Basho still traverses a land all his own. True, Basho may be an acquired taste especially when one is familiar with the precision of Kottke, as precision wasn't Basho's aim--expression was. Basho had a punk attitude; he was more interested in making the music then making it "technical". In a sense he comes off as more an idealist and romantic than Kottke, and not as spiritually gimmicky, for lack of a better term, as Fahey. Kottke and Fahey aside. Let's look at Basho. This CD represents a good sampling of his earliest recorded work, it's very raw and edgy and when Basho "sings" (in tongues) or whistles it's eerie but beautiful. Basho's later works are more accomplished in the traditional guitarist sense, but to me less interesting and less obviously innovative than his first few recordings. Basho is endlessly experimental and endlessly expressive. You'll here subtle ambient sounds behind his guitar like bells and chimes. It sounds authentic; one can imagine sitting on a monastery porch next to the guitarist in some far away Eastern land. And I don't know this for sure, but I get the sense that Basho improvises some of the material, there seems to be a basic structure that he will work around, but I imagine he throws in alterations to some degree each time he plays a composition. Again something I don't think Kottke or Fahey would do as freely. This is good music, and thoughtful music. It's really one of a kind. Guitar Soli is a fine place to start, and if you become more interested then look into some of the other recent CD reissues, or search for the used LPs. And a little word of advice, don't listen to Basho the same way you would Kottke, you know in your car cruising on the highway with the windows open and Busted Bicycle roaring through the speakers--well anyway that's what I like to do. This is a different kind of music, and you have to respect that. This is almost ambient, put it on at night, light some candles and incense, read, or write, or just relax, have some tea. Take it easy and enjoy."
5 Stars for the Good Stuff; Listen with Interest to the Bad
Richard S. Osborn | Saratoga, CA USA | 03/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If this were to be just a successful "listen" album, it should probably have only 6 cuts, but they would be ones of absolutely unique and strange beauty. No one had ever treated the folk steel-string guitar like this before Robbie. There are several truly atrocious pieces on this album. But keep in mind that all of the music comes from his earliest recordings. To understand what is going on here, remember Robbie's own guiding axiom: "Vision first, technique second". You are listening to a kind of musical record of one man's inner spiritual journey, someone whose soul expanded with visions from India, Tibet, China, Iran, Armenia. So, to the reviewer who trashed this album, I would say: you have missed a rare glimpse into the creative process itself, what jazz musician's call "deep in the shed", LONG before it gets polished and prettified for public consumption.I agree pretty much whole-heartedly with the review Amazon put up top. Even as a student and colleague of Robbie's, I always felt his later music suffered from his terrible "purple poetry" and an unmastered overuse of his wonderful voice. However, on "Guitar Soli", you will enjoy perhaps the one greatest piece where his voice rose in perfect, even eerie, integration with its musical form in the song, "Salangadou". And I am hoping that several of these pieces can get transcribed into sheet music for later generations, as they are a great contribution to the body of music for the guitar.And reviewer Mike McGonigal's wish came true: some of Robbie's greates later pieces have been reissued on "Bashovia"."
Not very accessible, but quite creative
Nobody important | 05/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I don't listen to Robbie Basho very often, but I respect him enormously. He does, as other reviewers have indicated, have an uncanny ability to make his guitar sound like a sitar. Technically, he was virtually without peer. Compositionally, he was inconsistent. At his best, he flowed evenly between meditative ragas and oddly pleasing dissonance. At his worst, he sounded like he was just banging away randomly on his guitar. For those looking for a more accessible blending of eastern and western sounds, Sandy Bull played a more accessible blend (in fact, several pieces that he explicitly called, "Blends") which is not as technically impressive, but is far more fluid, and Ry Cooder and VM Bhatt's collaboration (A Meeting By the River), while I find it a bit boring, may be more to the liking of those who like their music dissonance-free. Incidentally, occasionally, Basho tried to sing, which was a dreadful mistake, but those tracks can be skipped."