• brethren of the free spirit All Things Are from Him, Through Him and In Him (CD, £13.75)

    label: Incunabulum

    Brethren of the Free Spirit consists of 12 string guitarist James Blackshaw and lutist Jozef Van Wissem. Both musicians have established themselves as respected artists in their own fields, so this collaboration comes with a lot of expectation behind it. Blackshaw's 12 string seems to be the dominant force for the first two tracks, setting a solid skeleton of minimal rhythmic guitar segments that slightly change and morph. The lute seems to work a little more subtly on these tracks, either coming into play as an accent or mirroring the guitar. There is a strong meditative mood that seeps through these tracks, and track two has hypnotic, circular riffing. The subtle accents of the lute and the slowly evolving passages of guitar sound like a Philip Glass composition. When the passages repeat so many times, things start to stick out and shift, and it's hard to tell whether it is your own mind assimilating the pattern or the musicians playing tricks with you. This great collaboration is a good example of contemporary musicians taking traditional instruments and song forms and adapting them to their own unique vision.

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