I was just listening to All things are from Him, through Him and in Him by Brethern of the Free Spirit who are none other than James Blackshaw and Jozef van Wissem.
Here’s the low down:
Brethren of the Free Spirit are guitarist/composer James Blackshaw and lutenist/composer Jozef van Wissem. Named after a cult of 13th-century Northern European religious heretics (they’re detailed in Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces), this duo play with an appropriately zealous intensity. Their first album ” All things are from Him, through Him and in Him was released as a CD/LP on Belgian imprint Audiomer. The second CD/LP ” The wolf also shall dwell with the Lamb” was released in November 2008 by Important Records.
Brethren of the Free Spirit debuted in New York and went on a crusade through the Lowlands, Belgium, Spain, Ireland and London. On the Dutch National VPRO TV show ‘Vrije Geluiden” they were asked to elaborate. ” Intricate phrases circle and spiral in on themselves, and in the end it’s the subtle shifts in rhythm and tonal coloration that provide a kind of transcendence in a sea of repetition” – The Phoenix Named after the 13th century European millenarian cult most famously documented by historian Norman Cohn and Situationist writer Raoul Vaneigem, Brethren Of The Free Spirit is the group name for one of the most perfectly matched of modern string duos, 12-string guitarist James Blackshaw and Baroque Lute player Jozef van Wissem.
Blackshaw has always had a feel for sacred and Early Music settings, cutting his guitar instrumentals with devotional melodies in a way that functions as a specifically English take on Sandy Bulls chamber guitar concepts. Van Wissem’s stately lute playing strikes the perfect balance between the ornately austere and the more zoned avant, and together they create a minimal form of early string music possessed of a subtle, psychedelic grandeur. Both players make much of refrain and restraint, working simple, steel-tone melodies into repeating forms that suggest the iconoclastic logic of John Fahey or Albert Ayler applied to 13th century sacred music. At times it’s hard to tell the two players apart, but Blackshaw’s inspired use of harmonics on the opening track recalls Derek Bailey’s muzzy guitar style circa Aida. Van Wissem’s playing is methodical and hypnotic, sounding two or three note phrases around which Blackshaw gradually assembles layer after layer of ornamentation. It’s great to hear players with at least a foot in the underground reapplying that knowledge to traditional European Folk forms.