Steffen Basho-Junghans

Steffen Basho-Junghans

Rivers and Bridges

Strange Attractors

I realize it’s a little late. Maybe it’s fitting for an artist who was going on 50 by the time his first record was released in the States. I think it underscores the urgency, the praise due, the acknowledgement that Steffen Basho-Junghans deserves. Today, I received Rivers and Bridges from the powers that be at Ink 19. After a bout with some releases on Strange Attractors record label that I was not enthusiastic about, Basho-Junghans’ release comes with great relief.

In a very clear-cut way, Junghans’s work is influenced by the Takoma record label guitarists in the Sixties. Junghans would probably agree with me in suggesting that potential listeners check out this amazing collection of work as soon as possible, and certainly before Rivers and Bridges. The sounds of guitarists like John Fahey and Peter Lang have been oft-emulated, especially since Jim O’Rourke’s Bad Timing (probably the record I’d most immediately recommend after the original Takoma stuff). Yet, a sizeable portion of the Takoma rip-off stylists are entirely forgettable, like the moronic combination of IDM melodies and finger-picking that constitutes Howard Hello’s release on Temporary Residence not too long ago.

Rivers and Bridges is not an album that has Fahey’s sense of experimentation; there are no surprises, but there is still something appealing about it. While I can’t claim Junghans is making the most unique, most high-quality guitar instrumental music today, this release is very enjoyable. It conflicts with my general beliefs about what is good and bad in music. Maybe the answer is in his German nationality. Where Takoma guitarists were lyricists of the American countryside, filtered through Basho-Junghans steely guitar lens, these works sing of different mountainsides and lakes, different nature, a different home. Despite the similarities of style, Junghans is conveying something ever-so-slightly different, and it makes for an album of beauty. Highly recommended.

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