Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Sir Richard Bishop, Polytheistic Fragments

Sir Richard Bishop is a guitarist who played for many years with the avant-garde, experimental trio Sun City Girls.  He has also put out a number of solo albums.  polyfrags“Polytheistic Fragments” is the first time I’ve heard him.  Bishop plays both electric and acoustic guitar and, on at least one track, piano.  Other instruments appear on “Polytheistic Fragments” but no instrumental credit is given so it’s unclear if Bishop is multitracking the occasional bass, piano or percussion accompaniment or whether Scott Colburn who is credited with “audio wizardry” played some of the other instruments.

Bishop has exceptional technical skills as a guitarist and is able to play a very wide range of different styles of music.  On “Polytheistic Fragments” there are bits of flamenco, modal drones, roots music, classical Spanish guitar, possibly medieval European styling, back-porch folk and more.  Bishop doesn’t just demonstrate these different types of music he plays them very well.  Advanced guitar players looking for something well beyond the standard rock, blues and pop stylings may find much of interest here.

Although Bishop has great technical skill, he is less successful as a songwriter or composer.  At times passages on “Polytheistic Fragments” sound like somewhat aimless noodling; noodling of a very high level of technical profiency but noodling nevertheless.  “Polytheistic Fragments” is more a demonstration of virtuoso guitar playing than a collection of interesting compositions for the guitar.

There’s no question that Bishop can play.  However, I expect his choice of what to play may have more appeal for its technical value to the serious guitarist than it will have for its musical value to the listener who enjoys serious guitar music.


03/17/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

1 Comment »

  1. this is such an interesting post with great history, nice job

    Comment by musiclover | 03/17/2008 | Reply

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