‘IS’ opens with an epic eighteen-minute six string slide piece entitled ‘When The Plains are Singing’. You can imagine flying over a wide open landscape with cold blue mountains, sweeping down over wild fields of long grass dancing around in the wind, until finally coming back to the imposing natural towers of the mountains. Steffen Basho-Junghans’s work has the uncanny ability to take the listener into almost lucid visual realms that are painted all through the six and twelve steel-string guitars. There really is no other player out there with this specific approach. Once I saw him perform in Leeds where he claimed, “The next piece is about the pacific Ocean” and sure enough these great warping waves of sound that seem to have a distinct tropical turquoise-blue were released into the room.
The second track ‘Changes’ is a sonic sea of joyous drone that indeed changes over the course of its eleven minuets but only very subtly. The feeling of freedom in the sound brings to mind Thurston Moore’s sunkissed summer Indie punk stylings, a player I very much doubt influenced the formative years of the pre-wall east Berlin resident. Cultural limitations were imposed meaning not all music could penetrate through the wall, however in Junghans case it seems that is was the right side for internalising his unique creativity.
On the flip side of this 200gram heavy weight vinyl we’re sent into a hypnotic trance with ‘Azure No. 8’ a welcome addition to Junghans’s continual exploration into guitar water experimentations.
Other tracks such as ‘Waiting for the Clouds’ and ‘Leaving Eden’ show off his grandiose finger picking but as with every other track on here, they display a real soul and depth behind them.
The album leaves us with the haunting ‘…and like Wind we go’, a scratchy textural piece, that while devoid of any obvious melody has a striking atmosphere that will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
Review by: Harry Wheeler
Steffen Basho-Junghans plays at Café Oto on 8th April: details