Song Reviews

Robbie Basho’s Visions of the Country Reissued by Gnome Life

Robbie Basho

Listening to Robbie Basho whistle atop a mesmerizing piano melody in “Leaf in the Wind”, I am overwhelmed by the sense of peace his music creates. I can feel it wash over me, a soft calm the we in the Western world seem so adamant to forget exists.

On a website devoted to Basho’s music, the first two sentences sum up the man and his music nicely:

Words cannot accurately describe the music of Robbie Basho. He was a visionary in the truest sense of the word. Not only is he one of the most under-appreciated solo acoustic guitarists of the 20th century, but he had a voice that was of a completely different world.

Robbie Basho passed away in 1986. During a routine visit to a chiropractor he suffered a ruptured vertebral artery and had a fatal stroke. His 1978 LP Visions of the Country, after three decades out of print, is being reissued this month by Gnome Life Records.

Within Visions of the Country, you will glimpse this otherworldly creature — a man far too unique and intriguing for planet Earth. His music is intimate yet solitary. It presents a man filled with emotion, but accepting of how things are as they existed in the world at the time.

“Blue Crystal Fire” is one of Basho’s highlight tracks; it was covered last year by How to Dress Well, which ultimately led to this Gnome Life reissue. The song is filled with beauty, sadness and that aforementioned peace, a sound Pitchfork calls a manic, hyperkinetic approach to playing.

I simply call it haunting.

Look for Robbie Basho’s Visions of the Country on Gnome Life Records come August 20, and listen to “Blue Crystal Fire” below.

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