Joshua Chuquimia Crampton
The Heart’s Wash: Solo Guitar Works
(Independent / Bandcamp)
Guitarist Joshua Chuquimia Crampton has had the idea/s for this record for more than a decade – he first began tinkering around with some of the concepts towards a solo guitar record in 2011 but shelved it. You might have heard some of his guitar playing in the contributions to his sister’s records (poet and electronic composer/musician, Elysia Crampton).
The solitude of 2020 has ended up providing the impetus/platform for the ideas and expressions of The Heart’s Wash – its title a very 2020 thing in and of itself.
Because I’ve been listening to so much Brian Eno – including the Fripp & Eno material – I can hear textures that I feel might have come from Daniel Lanois and Robert Fripp and even Michael Rother but actually the best touchstones for much of this work are Bobby BeauSoleil – specifically some of the long intros and instrumentals on his rather wonderful Voodoo Shivaya from a couple of years ago, and also Bill Orcutt, perhaps most specifically the recent Odds Against Tomorrow album.
In much the same way as Orcutt, many of these pieces work like tone poems – shards of guitar made to resemble songs in only a superficial sense of arrangement; more likely they are installations of sound, distillations and crystallisations of a muse.
There are touches of folk (G-taste) and free jazz (oh my Goddess) but for the most part, across a sometimes punishing but eventually rewarding 90-minute journey, the tone is heavy metal, if not overtly (REN) then we sense the doom (rinse) and relentless riffage (Smoke – BLOSSOM – ) and mood (WASH) of metal.
These are questions from the soul, arriving as a form of ambient music, though mostly in the guise of being instrumental. This is not easy listening, though it’s very easy to drift away within the soft rumble of it (A Dream One). There are little moments of punctuation (the Buckethead-esque funky metal-lite Sea) and dreamy reveries that feel like the right-for-right-now update of John Fahey’s final electric wanderings (Possum’s Scar – Frog Power).
Closer, Axolotl, is 20 minutes of soul-searching vamp that moves from a proto doom-metal blues to a more primitive version of Eddie Van Halen’s “Cathedral” sound of his solo compositions. I sit with The Heart’s Wash and marvel at the scope of it as solo guitar album, as heart and soul music, as the ambient cleanse of 2020.
A beautiful set of noises to take you away from this world for the while that it lasts; capturing up in the movie of its sound.
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