JOHN FAHEY : City Of Refuge
A deft fingerpicking guitarist fusing classical, abstract & esoteric elements with the usual folk & blues influences, John Fahey was often labeled an American Primitive due to the self-taught nature of his "art", though his playing doesn't sound anything like "primitive" to a concerted novice like myself. Despite wrestling with a guitar in several bands over the years (though certainly not any that you've heard of) I'm definitely still not a "guitar player" as such. Consequently much of John Fahey's earlier, classic recordings sail, majestic & aloof, over my uncomprehending head. As much as I enjoy listening to, for instance, The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death, it's fair to say that I don't really get it.
The terminal phase of his career presents no such difficulties for me however. Denouncing the dazzling technique of his classic, medititive period as "cosmic sentimentalism", he chose to pursue a noticably harsher & explorative course throughout the 90s, much to the confusion & derision of his old time fans ("Being worshipped is a horrible experience", Fahey has claimed). Though recovering from the effects of longterm aloholism, diabetes & chronic fatigue syndrome, Fahey (who'd virtually stopped recording in the 80s) embarked on a prolific, often wayward, campaign of recording & live performance that would only be curtailed by his death, aged 62, in 2000. City Of Refuge is the first of the later Fahey albums I heard & I still give it a listen fairly regularly (rather randomly, it contains a couple of collaged Stereolab samples!). The Tim/Kerr label put it out in 1997 though it's currently OOP (the label tanked a couple of years later I believe). That same year's Womblife CD, on Table Of The Elements & produced by Jim O'Rourke, is probably my favourite though. During his stint in Gastr Del Sol, O'Rourke ceaselessly championed Fahey's work &, arguably, is largely responsible for his long-deserved critical re-evaluation.
This link c/o Annaherugen btw, a new (to me) blog chocful of intriguing-looking music I've never heard of. Tap into the official Fahey site for further enlightenment.