Sir Richard Bishop Improvika

One third of the constantly evolving and always challenging Sun City Girls, Sir Richard Bishop’s Improvika is a startling album of steel-string wooden guitar improvisations that recalls both old folkies like John Renbourn and Robbie Basho and such contemporaries as Jack Rose and Harris Newman. The tense plucking in the opening section of "Gnostic Gem,” in particular, recalls Sun City Girls’ early post-punk meets free-jazz rigidity. The band’s more recent folk-jazz workouts come across throughout Improvika’s more spacious passages, but for the most part, this album has little to do with Bishop’s mother ship and everything to do with getting back to the ancients with a little travelling wooden guitar plucking. So Sun City fans, be forewarned — this is far from freaky, abrasive or noisy, but anyone eager to become immersed in some more exciting and formally mesmerising solo acoustic guitar patterns will eat this up and ask for seconds. (Locust)