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Various artists - The Garden of Forking Paths [Important Records - 2008]

The Garden of Forking Paths is a compilation of hypnotic, haunting and beautiful solo stringed instrument based music selected by folk Guitarist James Blackshaw and unlike a lot of compilations he's managed to make this cohesive and flowing album that makes you want to return to its beautiful and atmospheric shores often.

All the tracks were recorded specially for this collection and feature the following artists;Helena Espeval (Espers),Jozef van Wissem,Chieko Mori and James Blackshaw himself. Itís difficult to chose high points as each track has itís merits and wonder but a few of  particular moments that stood out to me would be Blackshaw's The broken Hour Glass for which he unfolds enchanted and slightly downcast harmonic acoustic guitar playing- that has an almost an  peaceful and poignant Popol Vuh feel to it. Or the soothing and heady koto playing of Chieko Mori on Tokyo Light, that unweaves around you like beautiful harmonic and oriental touched sound mist- truly magical.

A compilation that mangers to stand on itís own two feet as an enjoyable and fulfilling whole, clearly with real thought given to track selection and placing- itís a pity more compilation can't be like this.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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