Atmospheric Guitar Play
Sir Richard Bishop’s Tangier Sessions is the essence of simplicity. The clarity of the unaccompanied classical Spanish guitar is prominent throughout the entire album. The album’s repetition of hammer-ons and pull-offs create texture and add a personal touch. This entirely instrumental album exudes tranquility through the smoothness of Bishop’s technique. It seems, at times, to be the perfect soundtrack to a contemporary spaghetti western.
The lack of rhythmic diversity in the first half of the album takes away from an otherwise carefully composed album. Still, Bishop’s impeccably clean technique resonates through each song.
“Frontier” and the upbeat “Safe House” showcase his improvisational skills, which create an interesting contrast with the stylistically classical nature of each piece. Bishop is clearly taking a risk genre wise — classical Spanish guitar isn’t necessarily popular. Thus, it reflects his boldness as an artist, and his passion to pursue an album based on what he wants to do, as opposed to what a producer would encourage him to do just to turn a profit. His previous albums range from jazz, to punk, to improvisational rock, so a completely unplugged album is fairly unexpected.
While Tangier Sessions seems to be a return to a much more Baroque style of music, there are hints of modernism within each song. “Mirage” has a nice bluesy ring to it. Bishop is incredibly skilled at utilizing repetition without making it monotonous. His jazz roots shine in compositions that have a few bars of set melody that he uses as the foundation to improvise upon. “Safe house” has a nice tension to it, though at times can sound Jaws-esque. The album also reveals Bishop’s appreciation for world music. “International Zone” is much more traditionally Spanish; while “Hadija” has distinctly Middle Eastern influences. “Bound in Morocco” demonstrates his talent to create imagery through his compositions. The movement up and down the neck of the guitar constructs the rhythm of walking and traveling. Tangier Sessions is an ode to Bishop’s travels and demonstrates his appreciation for the music of the cultures he has experienced.