Various Artists - 156 Strings
Curated by guitarist Henry Kaiser, 156 Strings is his personal selection of acoustic guitarists "who sound like themselves and have something special to say." The 19 guitarists here are both well known & unknown: Duck Baker, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Raoul Bjorkenheim, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Nels Cline, Janet Feder, Fred Frith, Michael Gulezian, Richard Leo Johnson, Henry Kaiser, Mike Keneally, Peter Lang, Scott McGill, Shawn Persinger, Rod Poole, Gyan Riley, Miroslav Tadic, Richard Thompson and U Tin The following is from Henry's liner notes to the CD: "When I was in high school and college, it was the Golden Age for record albums of American, steel-string, instrumental guitar. I bought all the early LPs of the master creators of this new genre as they were released: John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke, Sandy Bull, and others. A few years later, New Age guitar music swept that genre out of the media and record stores, and replaced it with something that was typically more derivative, perhaps dishonest, and definitely less expressive. To this day, I return to those old records of the masters and I am amazed by the highly personal and original expressions that were taking place back then. While there are many CDs of instrumental steel-string guitar music released today, not much new music in the stores seems to match the creativity and intensely expressive work of those early pioneers that I mentioned. And yet, I do know many players today who are operating at those elevated levels of acoustic eloquence. I got to thinking about the early Takoma Records sampler lps, released when the label was overseen by John Fahey, and also about Volumes 2 and 3 of Fred Frith's "Guitar Solos" series, which introduced innovative, experimental guitarists. Those releases were portals that many listeners went through to discover new artists and sounds. I decided to attempt something like a combination of Fahey's and Frith's approaches as editors."