Here’s the latest from Sir Richard Bishop, recorded across a week in Morocco – it’s the continuation of his exploratory guitar style, moments of John Fahey there obviously, but Bishop has carved out his own sound while adhering to folk and desert-blues idioms; you could just as soon decide that his solo acoustic guitar pieces are a form of neo-classical music as you might hear them to be a busking take on psychedelic and prog-rock’s folk/ish moments.
Every piece here aims for – and pretty much nails – a sonic transcendence, these are soundtracks for journeys of the mind, there’s the deep and coiling riffing across International Zone, it feels like middle-eastern metal transposed for concert soloist. Then there’s the gentle closer, Let It Come Down. Soft and spidery, the fingers dance over the frets and it’s stately as a Mike Nock solo, calm as Mark Knopfler at his finest but always, since it’s Bishop, there’s that exciting threat that this could turn, at any moment, and go off anywhere/everywhere else. But Let It Come Down is the comedown of this record, the gentle farewell on a record that feels like a love-letter, even if postcard only, to a guitar from a guitarist.
Across the opening Frontier (a smarm-less tango) , and then on through Bound in Morocco’s interpolation of African and Indian ideas (it’s reminiscent of Paul Ubana Jones’ playing) we are hearing a courtship between player and instrument. The songs are the diary notes of this love affair. The record is the photo-album. The playing hypnotic, spirited, beautiful.