SIR RICHARD BISHOP is an experimental guitarist whose improvisations and compositions often reflect the shadow worlds of India, the Middle East, North Africa, and other points along the Gypsy trail. Bishop is perhaps best known as a founding member (along with brother Alan Bishop) of experimental ethnic-improv pioneers and underground tricksters Sun City Girls, who for nearly 30 years have produced an extensive discography of over 50 full length albums, 20 one-hour cassettes and a dozen 7" records.
Bishop's first official solo record, 'Salvador Kali', was released by John Fahey's esteemed Revenant Records label in 1998. The album showcases Bishop's own particular obsessions and roots, drawing from a variety of worldwide sources. Locust Music issued his widely praised second record, 'Improvika' in 2004. This album consists of nine extemporaneous pieces for solo acoustic guitar and led to Bishop performing live as a solo artist, playing throughout Europe, Australia and the United States, over the successive years touring extensively with Bonnie Prince Billy, Earth, Animal Collective and Bill Callahan, amongst many others. Throughout the previous decade Bishop has excelled himself with numerous self-releases alongside major works on Locust and Drag City, who released Bishop's most recent album, 'Tangier Sessions', earlier this year.
The conceit of Bishop's new album, Tangier Sessions, is based in some serious guitar lore that would make any bedroom noodler salivate. While in Switzerland last year, Bishop stumbled into a hole-in-the-wall luthier's shop. Failing to find anything to suit his purposes, he went to leave, but he was stopped by the owner on his way out, who reached behind a cabinet and pulled out a very old, remarkable guitar of unknown provenance. The only distinguishing mark on the guitar was a tiny sticker inside which read "C. Bruno". Entranced by its sound and mystery, but intimidated by its price, Bishop came and went several times before finally caving and buying the guitar.
Soon after this, he found himself holed up for a week at an apartment in Tangier, Morocco, playing the guitar furiously all day, improvising and recording at night. Tangier Sessions is the result of these frenzied efforts. Stylistically, the album evokes Morocco as a hub of cultural exchange. Bishop often explores the Andalusian flamenco guitar style, infusing it with gestures from across the country's other borders. In the seductive, cyclical crocheting of "Mirage", there's traces of the Mali-centered "desert blues," a style sometimes considered to have inspired the American blues, but which now, in contemporary practice, re-emulates it.
Elsewhere, Bishop's haunting melodies recall the sound of the oud, a popular lute-like instrument in North Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Greece. This rare solo performance sees Bishop performing with his 'C. Bruno' guitar in a wonderful grade II listed Victorian church in the heart of Kilburn. The Tin Tabernacle is constructed out of galvanised corrugated iron and its interior was remodelled in the 1940's to house the Sea Cadets and their cultural centre.
MARKERS are a guitar duo from London comprising of Jason Carty and Jodie Cox. Collectively, their musical history has seen them as founding members and collaborators with the likes of Narrows, Geiger Counter, Foe, Exes, Rohame, Art of Burning Water and Earth. However, this project is something different.
Creating music without voice or rhythm section leaves them very exposed, focusing attention on how each note is wrung or coaxed for optimum emotional expression, and relying heavily on tone, dexterity and structuring. Whilst a review of early guitar influences has bled into their sound, there is an obvious nod to cinema and the effect music has on steering images with sweetness, patience and intensity, both on the screen and in the mind's eye.