James Blackshaw + Rev Simpkins

James Blackshaw + Rev Simpkins

1st May 2012


James Blackshaw performs celestial and spirit-lifting guitar-led compositions. Meditative in quality, cinematic in scope, his music spirals gracefully across complex patterns, motifs and harmonics. He made his name as a 12-string acoustic guitarist, and his relationship with the instrument is near perfect. With an extensive back catalogue to his name on labels like Young God Records, Tompkins Square and Important, he has developed a unique playing style that takes Takoma school finger-picking into an entirely new place. Swirling overtones, cascading notes and a thousand points of light cascade from his guitar and create ever-shifting textures that bear the influence of contemporary classical composition, post-rock dynamics and invisible soundtracks as much as the American folk guitar tradition.

Despite his transcendent state music he is a grounded and earthly fellow who has been written about with reverence and has played churches, festivals, folk clubs and large concert halls on his many travels in the US, Europe and Japan. These have included extensive touring with the reformed Swans, as well as collaborative performances with Hauschka and Nancy Elizabeth. He performs and records as a member of Current 93 and with Jozef Van Wissem as Brethren of The Free Spirit.

New album Love is The Plan, The Plan Is Death is released on Important Records in April 2012. Written at a time of great emotional disquiet, it's a beautiful and bittersweet new chamber work containing six original pieces whose titles are lovingly misappropriated from those of short stories by the great science fiction author James Tiptree Jr AKA Alice B. Sheldon. The instrumentation is more stripped back and integrated than on recent albums, allowing his impeccable nylon-string classical guitar playing to come to the fore, with small details like the scraping of his fingers on the strings and breathing patterns adding to the emotional honesty of the mix. Grand piano, vibraphone and B3 fill out the tracks, with Geneviève Beaulieu's stunning vocals featuring on the track ‘And I Have Come Upon This Place By Lost Ways’.

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"...his first Young God album, 'The Glass Bead Game', continues Blackshaw’s hot streak that has stretched for four or five years now. This one has five longish to epic tracks, two of which feature Blackshaw on piano, a development of the work he initiated on “Litany Of Echoes”….The sound this time is a little fuller, a little more orchestrated, a little further away from the folkTakoma school tag he was first saddled with, but his grace-filled compositional style remains more or less consistent...gorgeous, pensive...an extraordinary album" - John MulveyUncut Magazine

"...strong influences from outside the precincts of folk music: minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley, and some of their precursors, like Erik Satie... [Blackshaw] fingerpicks his 12-string Guild with an immersive focus befitting such heady allusions... a stark and ancient feeling, like something handed down through the ages...." - NY Times

"...one of the best and most original instrumentalists in the new, acoustic renaissance." - Rolling Stone

Tickets £8.
Doors open 8pm.


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