Search - Robbie Basho :: Venus in Cancer

Venus in Cancer
Robbie Basho
Venus in Cancer
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, Pop
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

"His voice is from another world. Robbie is special" - Pete Townshend, 2006 Robbie Basho released Venus in Cancer in 1969 on the Blue Thumb label. After five albums for the Takoma label in the 60's, Basho had cemented h...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Robbie Basho
Title: Venus in Cancer
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tompkins Square
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 8/15/2006
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, Experimental Music
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 856075001820


Album Description
"His voice is from another world. Robbie is special" - Pete Townshend, 2006 Robbie Basho released Venus in Cancer in 1969 on the Blue Thumb label. After five albums for the Takoma label in the 60's, Basho had cemented his reputation alongside John Fahey and Leo Kottke as one of the most brilliant guitarists of his genera- tion. His wide range of musical influences from around the globe set him apart from other blues-based players, incorporat- ing Arabic, Himalayan and Indian themes; Japanese and Chinese scales, and classical and European folk music. All are on magnificent display on this sprawling, spiritually-charged album. Released on CD for the very first time, the album has been remastered from the original tapes. The package includes origi- nal album artwork and new appreciations from Windham Hill label founder Will Ackerman, Basho college friend and fellow Takoma recording artist Max Ochs, German guitarist Steffen Basho-Junghans, and Pete Townshend of The Who. Twenty years since his death in 1986, Basho's legend continues to grow, having strongly influenced a new generation of guitarists including Jack Rose, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and James Blackshaw, among many others. The first ever live recording by Robbie Basho, a version of "Kowaka D'Amour" from Venus in Cancer, can be found on Tompkins Square's recent compilation, Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 2.

CD Reviews

At long last!
Richard S. Osborn | Saratoga, CA USA | 09/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I salute Tompkins Square for reissuing this album of Robbie's. If you have never heard this incredible visionary/musician, this album would not be a bad introduction. After hearing a guitarist so accomplished and unique in his technique and passionate in his vision, maybe, like me, you will wonder why there are not more successors to lift our souls through music....

The Fantasy reissues ("Guitar Soli" and "Bashovia") contained a compilation of Robbie's best early work ( "Soli") and later work ("Bashovia") on the Takoma label. "Bashovia" gathers most of the best works from Robbie's "Falconer's Arm" LP's; unfortunately, they left out "Variations on Shakespeare Wallah", one of Basho's best straight-ahead raga-style explorations. Robbie had studied with the incomparable Ali Akbar Khan for a couple of years, and the results really show in some of his raga-style work.

I studied with Robbie in the late 1960's and then performed with him a little in the early 1970's. Even today, I feel somewhat evangelical about wanting to promote his music: I don't feel he ever got the audience or recognition he deserved. In part, this was his own fault. He was fairly strange as a person, and had some severe faults as a musician. I say this last because of all of his later albums (except those mentioned), I would recommend ONLY this "Venus in Cancer" album, as containing music of the highest order. When I speak of musical faults, in Robbie's case, I fear the worst was his belief that he could write poetry and that the content of his songs was as important (or more) than the music itself. This single fact destroyed (in my opinion, of course) almost all of his later albums.... EXCEPT "Venus in Cancer". This album contains one of the most successful fusions of Robbie's astounding voice with his guitar playing in the song "Eagle Sails the Blue Diamond Water." Also, never to be forgotten is "Cathedrals Et Fleur De Lis", that magically weaves one into a vast tapestry played as on huge chimes. And (the exception proving the rule) his "Wine Song" is one of the few that are entirely successful as mystical devotional singing; you will notice that the imagery is constrained, kept under control: traditional Sufi imagery well handled.
Worth the wait!
A. D. Lewis | Blackwood, S. Wales | 10/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This music has taken a long time to reach CD. My old BLUE THUMB LP has long worn out, so I am delighted to welcome an old friend in CD format. In agreeing absolutely with Richard S Osborn, I would add that I have always thought KOWAKA D'AMOUR to be one of the finest guitar pieces I have ever heard. Add to that, the title track and CATHEDRALS... and you have perhaps the essence of Robbie Basho as a unique and wonderful guitarist. If you enjoy this music, you may want to explore the recordings of STEFFEN BASHO-JUNGHANS. I hope the good folk at Windham Hill will issue Basho's ART OF SIX AND TWELVE STRING GUITAR at some time."
Takoma Records' mysterious darkhorse...
Elliot Knapp | Seattle, Washington United States | 01/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Takoma Records is best known for releasing the bulk of John Fahey's albums (Fahey started the label), as well as starting the long and illustrious career of Leo Kottke. The legend and technical/compositional skill of these two artists tend to overshadow the equally interesting and worthwhile contributions of two other Takoma artists, Peter Lang and Robbie Basho. Indeed, once you've heard all four, you'll likely be convinced that Takoma truly was THE folk guitar label, home to some of the most technically impressive and compositionally progressive acoustic guitarists of the 60's and 70's. Whereas Fahey often channels a surreal, strange type of Americana through his groundbreaking fusions of folk/blues and classical composition, and Kottke never fails to impress with his blinding speed and ability to communicate emotion through technical prowess, Lang and Basho impress on entirely different levels. Lang, who I highly recommend, often combines the type of speed and agility you might associate with Kottke with the type of out-there exploration of Fahey. Basho, though he may not be the most outwardly technical or speed-oriented guitarist, is totally unique in that his music explores international musical styles and mystical themes that none of the other three ever touch on.

Venus In Cancer is Basho's only full-length album still in print on CD in the USA, which is a shame. For his earlier output, we have Bashovia and Guitar Soli, two decent compilations that nevertheless rob the listener of the original, cohesive album experience. Once you hear Venus in Cancer, you'll probably be hungry for more and at a loss for why Basho's entire catalog isn't available. The opening title track, "Venus in Cancer" sums up his style pretty nicely--what outwardly appears to be relatively simple arpeggiating guitar chords at closer listening becomes a fascinating excursion beyond the bounds of traditional Western harmony, incorporating dissonance and world music scales. Clocking in at 9:30, the song is truly a journey and a hypnotic one at that. Listen to Basho's 12-string as it fuses with his soaring, wordless vocal on "Eagle Sails the Blue Diamond Waters," and you'll probably start to understand that his music is more than a theoretical exercise, it's a quest for meaning on a religious or philosophical level, and a wholly successful effort to express that meaning in the ineffable medium of music.

"Kowaka d'Amour" takes this vision to a darker place, again hypnotizing with its liquid, ever varying arpeggios. All of these songs evoke a palpable and affecting atmosphere, just begging the listener to contemplate. For this reason, Basho's music makes excellent background mood music, but bears up to infinite close listens, always rewarding with its imagination and mystery. Luckily, his near-operatic vocals blend really well on the few songs that feature them, so he's not one of those many guitarists who would have been more tactful to shut up and play. If you're a fan of any of the other Takoma artists or any fantastic British folk guitarists like Davy Graham, or Bert Jansch (especially his instrumental album Avocet), you've simply got to hear Basho for his unconventional mastery of the guitar. I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite Takoma guitarist, but I can say that it would be a much less interesting label without Robbie Basho."