John Fahey Vol. 4: The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party And Other Excursions on Colored LP
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Acoustic guitarist John Fahey was impossible to classify. His eclectic music included traditional-sounding folk pieces, Indian ragas, blues, and unpredictable modern works, not fitting securely into any specific category but somehow always sounding personal. The founder of the Takoma label (named after his hometown of Takoma Park, MD), Fahey performed instrumentals that, because of his use of space and atmosphere, hinted at New Age a couple of decades before that genre was born, but his music generally contained much more variety and expressed quite a few different moods, often unpredictably.
Originally released in 1966, his fourth release on his Takoma label thus the Vol. 4, Fahey has never recorded an album that was more thoroughly of its moment. From the groovy flute and twangy sitar accompaniment to the backwards guitar, The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party is a charmingly trippy '60s time capsule. But it isn't a two dimensional one. The album gains immense depth from the tension between his sweeping, fingerpicked melodies and discordant string-battery. It's the audible battle between yearned for rose colored luminescence and ankle blistering hellhound darkness that enables this record to truly transcend its hippie dreaminess.