JOHN FAHEY - Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts, And Other Contemporary Dance Favorites

Guitarist John Fahey-drifter, hermit, sorcerer-does for the blues, folk and other American primitive idioms what Duchamp did for nudes descending staircases: His sonic portraits never rely on blurry lines to illustrate the concentric circles of motion and being, managing to suggest the ancient, immediate and infinite all at once. Pretty heady stuff, and if the latter half of his 30-plus recordings sounds a little new age-y, well, you can't blame him for the watery derivations his disciples managed to popularize. Though heralded as one of the great fingerstyle guitarists of the 20th century, Fahey's itinerant 40 years of music-making bears the bite marks of as many hellhounds on his trail as any Delta bluesman. Rising iconoclastically out of the '60s acoustic scene after having already recorded his touchstone works, 1959's Blind Joe Death and 1963's Death Chants, Breakdowns, And Military Waltzes, Fahey would alternately soar and stumble into a decades-long hermitage of bourbon, welfare and disease, his seclusion only adding to his mystique. In the '90s, he emerged a wizened Buddha; a hipster Santa in his dark shades, white beard and pot belly, offering knee rides to a whole new generation of guitar scientists combing through the secret history of elder avant fingertsylists and obliging them with rare gifts from his Revenant label. Georgia Stomps, a recording of a 1997 concert in Atlanta, floats radical reinterpretations of Duke Ellington and Artie Shaw and public-domain totems like "House Of The Rising Sun" and "My Prayer" down a cascade of glissandos and arpeggios, pinging overtones and the occasional Skip James interval, all of which deserve more than the polite applause the audience affords them.
[Table Of The Elements, POB 5524, Atlanta GA 31107]

Jonathan Valania

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