2010 Top 10s and 20s
Will Long (Celer)

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Celer & Yui Onodera
Dead Leaf Echo
Ferraris & Uggeri
Ernesto Ferreyra
Flying Horseman
The Foreign Exchange
Les Fragments de la Nuit
Ghost and Tape
Andrew Hargreaves
Head Of Wantastiquet
Anders Ilar
Quintana Jacobsma
Leafcutter John
Clem Leek
The Lickets
The Machine
My Fun
Ostendorf, Zoubek, Lauzier
Part Timer
Phillips + Hara
RV Paintings
Set In Sand
Matt Shoemaker
Sun City Girls
Ben Swire
Collin Thomas
Upward Arrows

Compilations / Mixes
Exp. Dance Breaks 36
Lee Jones
The Moon Comes Closer
Note of Seconds

Jasper TX
Simon Scott
Thorsten Soltau / Weiss
Jace Syntax & BlackJack

Tomo: Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works
Subvalent Records

Listeners hungry for dazzling 12-string guitar playing of the kind associated with James Blackshaw and others of his ilk should definitely do themselves a favour and investigate Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works by Tomo (Transcendental Organic Magical Objective). Blending elements of drone, raga, folk, and American minimalism (of the Terry Riley kind) into a bold hybrid, the Japan-based muso proves himself to be every bit a match for his American counterparts. While the impact of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Loren MazzaCane Connors is felt in Tomo's music (it's worth noting that he lived for a while in Missouri, where he gained exposure to early blues, country, ragtime, and other forms), one also hears heavy doses of Indian classical and Middle Eastern musics in his playing. Put simply, one might think of it as a bridge connecting multiple strands of folk and experimental forms. Though Tomo has established himself with hurdy gurdy and saxophone playing in the Japanese outfit Tetragrammaton and in collaborations with Japanese artists such as Junzo Suzuki and Hiroshi Hasegawa, the seventy-minute album finds him focusing on the acoustic guitar in its seven tracks (hurdy gurdy and electric tamboura also figure into three of the seven pieces).

Dense clusters cycle in spellbinding manner throughout “Carnival in Full Bloom,” a nine-minute bravura display of 12-string finger-picking if ever there was one, while the brooding 6-string patterns draped across the tamoura base in “Raga en Japanesque” prove to be as hypnotic. Tomo's propensity for integrating different forms is exemplified in “Ceremonial Music in Sheol” through the pairing of Sufi-styled vocal chanting and a rhythm pulse that, in isolated moments, seems to suggest a country jig. The album's most immersive setting, “Butterfly Dream,” lulls the listener into a state of meditative calm for twenty-two minutes when Tomo's 6-string playing ebbs and flows in wave-like movements against a hurdy gurdy drone that radiates so loudly it often overpowers the finger-picking. Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works also includes bluesy shadings (“Sliding Milky Way Paradise Lost Blues”), uptempo country twang (the two-minute “Drifting Beyond the Border Hill to Hill”), and a stately coda (“Farewell Waltz”). It's a collection of many moods, meditative and rapturous among them, that rewards one's attention and is well worth one's time.

December 2010