I first became aware of Dubliner Cian Nugent when his solo guitar contributions to Imaginational Anthem Volume Three and We Are All One, in the Sun: Tribute to Robbie Basho appeared in back-to-back years.¹ Both recordings evidence clean, confident playing and command of the freeform, open-tuned style that continues to prevail in today’s acoustic guitar underground. Cian’s debut album, Doubles, was released earlier this year by VHF Records, joining a recent string of excellent guitar-oriented albums issued by the label, including Jesse Sparhawk & Eric Carbonara’s Sixty Strings and Alexander Turnquist’s Hallway of Mirrors.
One cannot help but ponder the meaning of the album’s title, “doubles.” Simply stated, it is a symmetrical work, in that it pairs together two side-long pieces that mirror one another structurally and musically. On both sides, series of improvised passages comprise two primary movements that repeat, resulting in a loose, “ABAB” form. Additionally, for each work Nugent establishes a vocabulary of intervals and melodic phrases built from adjacent tones and half-tones. The resulting “duplicitous” voicings provide the album’s primary musical themes as well as the constant sensation of push and pull. I could go on! Let’s just say the “doubles” motif gives the work a dimension beyond pure emotion, which I found somewhat unique for a freeform guitar album. Continue reading →
We are all one, In the Sun brings together a diverse range of artists from all over the world to celebrate and share in the spirit of the late six and twelve-string guitarist, Robbie Basho. I was thrilled to review this compilation for Work & Worry, as Robbie is a musician who has deeply touched my soul, gifting me with an influence I will carry with me for the rest of my days on this earth. Hearing a piece like “Dravidian Sunday” for the first time (from The Seal of the Blue Lotus) completely changed my outlook on not only the ragtime and blues guitar that I was learning at the time, but also my outlook on music in general. Robbie’s playing and singing seemed to evoke that longing for peace that all human beings dream of, and I knew that I had found something special. I remember thinking, and still do, that Robbie’s music exemplified a direction toward raw expression of the heart and soul that I also wanted to find in myself. Continue reading →