James Blackshaw – The Glass Bead Game

May 14, 2009

CDcover6 Hey kids! I’ve got some advice for you, so please bear with me — it’ll only take a sec.

James Blackshaw has a new album coming out later this month, his first on Michael Gira’s Young God Records. It’s called “The Glass Bead Game.”

And now for the advice. Go to the page here and download the first track, “Cross.” It’s free and legal! Load it into your iTunes or whatever, and then come back ….

So now you know what I mean. The exquisite guitar work, that’s to be expected from James Blackshaw. But the added instrumentation and, even more, the wordless vocals that float above, those are the surprises that give this composition its enormous — to paraphrase Gira himself, I’d almost say its shocking — beauty. And, if for some reason that’s not enough, the album’s closing track, the 18-minute-plus, shimmering, piano-based “Arc,” is perhaps even more spectacular.

I’ve always enjoyed and admired James Blackshaw’s work, but “the Glass Bead Game” takes it to another level. It’s really something special.


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