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Sun City Girls survivor Saint Richard Bishop is back in the guitar soli seat this week with this tasty new 10" of nimble Orient-inspired pickin', which has a single 11-minute track on the A side and three shorter pieces overleaf.
Apparently the long piece on side A, 'Mekong', is based around the sounds of the phin, a three-stringed Thai instrument which is almost banjo-like in timbre and has unusual fret spacings. As the press release explains, R-Bish doesn't use any chords over the course of this lengthy piece, which instead focuses on delightfully winding passages of nimble plucked notes which reel out of his axe in dizzying, fluid formations, reminding me more of a koto than a phin when he really gets into his stride. His freewheeling east-meets-west style in places reminds me of an acoustic take on Japanese guitarists of the '60s eleki buumu like Munetaka Inoue or Takeshi Terauchi. You can hear the percussive sounds of his fingers against the steel strings quite clearly too which gives it an earthy and strangely mechanical feel which I like.
This track is Bishop's first new recording in some time and by this evidence he's lost none of his magic as a six-string wrangler. Over on the other side the three shorter pieces are cherry-picked from previous CD-only releases and are a good representation of his thoughtfully intuitive solo guitar style.
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