Kept Impulses: James Blackshaw, Nancy Elizabeth & Hauschka
A self-taught 12-string acoustic guitar virtuoso, Hastings-based James Blackshaw weaves the minimalism of Philip Glass, through medieval ‘Early Music’, and the sparse ‘American Primitive’ guitar styles first played by John Fahey and Robbie Basho in the 50s. Bar the occasional tamboura or violin drone, his early albums were solo guitar affairs. Blackshaw has since branched out by playing piano and adding orchestration. 2009’s The Glass Bead Game, his first for Michael Gira’s Young God Records, featured strings, woodwind and the vocals of Trembling Bells’ Lavinia Blackwell on some tracks, and while it was interesting to see Blackshaw experimenting with his sound, it was the solo guitar pieces, in all their austere beauty, which stood out. Intriguingly, his next album, All Is Falling, due out in August, sees Blackshaw switching to electric 12-string. ‘It’s not my rock record,’ he points out. Having toured The Glass Bead Game with his ensemble last year, Blackshaw is now embarking on a different kind of collaboration, the Kept Impulses Tour. Blackshaw, Wigan singer-songwriter Nancy Elizabeth and German piano experimentalist Hauschka will play their own sets as well as perform together.
‘There is some common ground in our music. Nancy and Hauschka I’ve played with before and got along with them really well. The way she plays is very unique; a lot of influences from classical music, folk and minimalism. And then Hauschka is a fellow called Volker Bertelmann from Dusseldorf. He plays prepared piano. He’s got bottle caps, bits of rubber, things like that. His music is contemporary classical. It’s lovely’.
Roxy Art House, Edinburgh, Sun 16 May