Sir Richard Bishop - Tangier Sessions

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2015-02-16

While in Geneva, guitar-maestro Sir Richard Bishop was on the lookout for a travel-size guitar; he discovered a backstreet shop and consequently happened upon the guitar that would give life to the warm, natural improvisations found within Tangier Sessions.

Such was Bishops draw towards the guitar that he revisited the shop several times, trying to barter for a lower price but eventually digging deep and buying the small acoustic instrument that had such a strange and unexpected hold over the musician.

Bishop then took the guitar to Tangier in Morocco and recorded the album within a week. Now, I’m sure Bishop could make any old lump of wood sound majestic but the backstory adds further charm to the free-flowing, unflustered ambience of the album.

If you’ve not heard Bishop play guitar before then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s an almighty back-catalogue to get struck into; I strongly recommend you do. As one part of impish subversives Sun City Girls, Richard Bishop made some uniquely beautiful and admittedly bonkers music.

The band he formed with his brother (Alan Bishop) produced free-styling, noisy and utterly off-the-wall music with a distinctly Eastern influence. Whether the band were covering The Fugs, making unhinged masterpieces (Torch of the Mystics) or soothing our wicked souls (Funeral Mariachi), Bishop's skills as a guitarist were always abundantly clear. His solo career (and work with supergroup Rangda) has only strengthened his reputation as one of the finest guitarists out there. In short; Richard Bishop is the man.

This album represents Bishop's talents at their most pure and direct. While Sun City Girls often used surrealist humour and noise to great effect and Rangda remain a propulsive avant-rock beast, it’s here on Tangier Sessions that you get to hear Bishops talents at their most distilled. The album begins with the easy, steadily-paced grace of ‘Frontier’; you can picture Bishop sat, utterly immersed in the sound of his new, prized guitar and happily exploring its potential. Bishop's improvisations flow between furious flamenco, hypnotic finger-picked arpeggios and Moroccan-influenced mysticism.

Suitably enough for an album born of a travel-size guitar, Tangier Sessions sounds like the on-the- road improvisations of some wondering musical beatnik. The album suggests wanderlust and a moment of musical vividness that gives each piece the intimacy and magic of a personal performance by the man himself.

You’ll be hard pushed to find a more heart-breaking and beautiful instrumental than the sparse acquiescence of closing piece ‘Let it Come Down’.  As usual, Sir Richard Bishop has created something absolutely spellbinding. 

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