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Album review: Richard Osborn – Endless

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 January 2017

Richard Osborn - Endless

Richard Osborn - Endless

Archant

Poised. finger-picked tranquillity and humbling talent from a lesser-known star of instrumental guitarmanship.

San Francisco’s Richard Osborn may have lived a life on the fringes of modern guitar music, but Endless might finally expose his work to the wider audience it deserves.

Active since the early ‘70s when he performed alongside Robbie Basho, co-creator of the ‘American primitive guitar’ style, Osborn puzzlingly remained absent from the entire recorded music canon until 2010, when he appeared on a Tompkins Square compilation

Almost seven years (and a couple of limited-release LPs) later, the label finally gets to release his debut album proper.

A proponent of the ‘free raga’ guitar style and fan of Eastern and Western classical music, Osborn whisks you to a place of beguiling but intricately-woven calm.

Aside from some barely distinguishable and best-overlooked vocals in opening track Breton Fisherman, Endless is an all-instrumental album of finger-picked songs that at times you’d be hard-pressed to believe were performed solo (aside from the occasional tabla accompaniment, which gives a distinct Far Eastern flavour to The King Walks By and The Open Road).

These seven meditations are sublime and often pleasingly disorientating, encouraging the listener to abandon the real world and float among the myriad warm rhythms and motifs that blossom, intertwine with and fade into one another.

They feel like they’ve been recorded almost as they are discovered, a quiet sense of possibility and adventure tantalising the mind – peak Zen is reached in the spaces between the ringing notes of In A Monastery Garden, while Laredo Pastorale is a deftly-spun web of beauty.

Rating: 4/5

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