Matt Baldwin - Paths of Ignition LP
One of the more unexpected – if worthwhile – byproducts of the 21st-century underground American folk revival is a renewed interest in solo acoustic guitar music. Spare, haunting, pastoral sounds have a struck a new chord, and the words John Fahey and Takoma are hip again. Just check the mighty Tompkins Square and Strange Attractors labels for the proof in the pudding.
Matt Baldwin, raised in California’s rustic Pacific Grove, educated in the alternative Mecca of Berkeley, sits in the center of this quiet, swirling scene. He is the visionary wildcard of today’s solo guitar music, the ambitious fever dreamer, the serpent in the grass. Towering tall with long blonde locks, he conjures from his axe dark and mystical realms. He calls his music “New Age,” and he may not be joking.
Featured on Tompkins Square’s 2006 Berkeley Guitar LP, Baldwin now steps into his own with his debut solo release. Unlike many of his peers, he looks beyond the traditions of Fahey (whom he calls “a teacher,” not a god). He brings portentous and progressive elements into his music, alongside a dreamy country lilt. He covers Krautrock legends Neu!(”Weissensee”) and metal Vikings Judas Priest (“Winter”), and culls inspiration from prog heroes Yes on closing epic “Rainbow.” His music comes on like a creeping moss, verdant but threatening, comforting yet unsettling. It will work its way inside you.
2. Jealous Woman
4. Eulogy and Dark