Gary Lucas/Dean Bowman
Chase The Devil
****
Knitting Factory KFR1100
Gary Lucas
The Edge Of Heaven
****
Knitting Factory KFR1101

Further giant steps from multi-faceted guitar hero


Only Gary Lucas could follow a set of cathartic spirituals with a sublime tribute to previously-unheard mid-20th century Chinese pop but, over the last 20 years on even more albums, the New York-based master guitarist has made many musical fields his own. The unquenchable sense of wonder he effortlessly siphons from his soul through his fingers is so tangible the results are often contagiously breath-taking.

Chase The Devil sees Lucas team up with supercharged blues singer Dean Bowman on a ferociously soul-stirring selection including the traditional In Christ There Is No East Or West and Blind Willie Johnsonís Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground: both favourites of the late John Fahey who, in many ways, Lucasí playing recalls. On two self-written songs theyíre joined by Arthurís Landing percussionist Mustafa Ahmed.

The Edge Of Heaven - first released on Franceís Indigo label in 2001 - is an unexpected pleasure as Lucas homages mid-20th century Mandarin singers Chow Hsuan and Bai Kwong their evocative blends of traditional Chinese and pop forms with singers Gisburg and Celest Chong. Titles such as Songstress On The Edge Of Heaven are dressed with majestic blues-infused motifs and lustrous six-string backdrops. Two very different albums, both imbued with the same incandescent virtuosity.

—Kris Needs