Brethen of the Free Spirit

All Things Are from Him, through Him and in Him | audioMER
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  March 12, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
The Brethren of the Free Spirit are Dutch lutenist Jozef van Wissem and English guitarist James Blackshaw. With his breathtaking technique and a crystalline tone, the 24-year old Blackshaw has established himself as an unusual talent among a bevy of great 12-string guitarists cast in the mold of Robbie Basho and John Fahey. Van Wissem is a rarer breed still: to my knowledge, he’s the only avant-garde lute player out there, composing stark, minimalist compositions that often take the form of musical palindromes. Named after a group of 13th-century Northern European religious heretics (they’re detailed in Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces), this duo play with an appropriately zealous intensity. Repetition is the name of the game: there’s a sportive, serve-and-volley quality at play throughout, something Van Wissem alludes to with his use of recordings from tennis matches, which pop up from time to time. “The Lifting of the Veil” and the amazing marathon title track are endurance tests for the players. Intricate phrases circle and spiral in on themselves, and in the end it’s the subtle shifts in rhythm and tonal coloration that provide a kind of transcendence in a sea of repetition.
Related: Blackshaw's good vibrations, Acoustic alchemy, Time of Rivers returns, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , James Blackshaw, Jozef van Wissem, John Fahey,  More more >
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