James Blackshaw, White/Light, Sick Gazelle | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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James Blackshaw, White/Light, Sick Gazelle Early Warnings (Music) Recommended The List (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 6, 8 p.m. 2010
Price: $8, $5 (limited)
A 12-string guitar can be an unwieldy thing, but in the right hands it's a peerless source of rich sonorities. Young Englishman James Blackshaw has such hands, and he puts them to good use on the splendid live album Waking Into Sleep (Kning), a solo performance recorded in Sweden in 2006: the stirring melodies of "Spiralling Skeleton Memorial" and "Sunshrine" billow into kaleidoscopic patterns of swirling tones. On his latest album, The Glass Bead Game (Young God), Blackshaw incorporates minimalist forms and layers of extra instrumentation, but the results are mixed. The lovely arrangement on "Cross" weaves together orchestral strings, female voice, and fingerpicked guitar in a successful hybrid between his sound and that of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. But when he switches to piano on "Fix," it just sounds like decaffeinated Philip Glass. Blackshaw plays solo 12-string for this show. —Bill Meyer

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