When UK-native James Blackshaw plays his 12-string guitar, something spiritual takes place. Performing and recording since 2003, his name is frequently mentioned as one of the foremost modern solo acoustic guitarists. Now at the age of 25, Blackshaw, an untrained musician born and still residing in the suburban environs of Greater London, draws as much inspiration from early religious music, South-Asian folk music and composers such as Arvo Part, Simeon Ten Holt, Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine as he does from John Fahey, Robbie Basho and the early Takoma Records roster, constantly breaking boundaries in what could be conceived as a somewhat limited medium. In his part improvised and part written songs, Blackshaw makes expert use of Eastern and Western scales, chord changes reminiscent of European classical music and incredibly intricate fingerpicking patterns to make a sound that is both challengingly minimalistic, yet warm and approachable to anybody who might hear it, with a rare sensitivity that conveys both immense beauty, hope and sadness.
Blackshaw has been featured in a range of magazines across the world including The Seattle Weekly, The Washington Post, Italy's Blow Up magazine and most recently in a full - page article in the October 2006 issue of The Wire.
James has toured Japan, Europe, Scandinavia and UK in 2005 and 2006, playing with artists such as Sir Richard Bishop, Espers, Brightblack Morning Light, Feathers, Greg Davis, Jack Rose, Marissa Nadler, Josephine Foster, Seiichi Yamamoto of The Boredoms and Christina Carter.
Tompkins Square label will follow the release of The Cloud of Unknowing with reissues of his earlier, out-of-print, limited edition albums this summer. U.S. tour plans are in the works for summer 2007. James is booked by Concerted Efforts in the U.S. firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Blackshaw is British, but virtually no one has heard of him outside the US folk underground; he deserves ticker-tape parades. His style derives from the Takoma school founded by John Fahey, but that is all detail. Blackshaw's got it all: skills to hyperventilate for, and instinctual loveliness in spades." - The Observer, 31/12/06
"In recent months, 24-year-old UK guitarist James Blackshaw has burst fully-formed onto the folk underground, his remarkable talents already seeming at peak maturity" - Pitchfork
Track Listing :
1. The Cloud of Unknowing
2. Running To The Ghost
3. Clouds Collapse
4. The Mirror Speaks
5. Stained Glass Windows