About this Recording
11032-2 - WILKINSON, James: Because of the Rain

James Wilkinson is best known internationally for his work in Europe and Australia with the Celtic band Rua. At home in New Zealand, he is a familiar figure with performances as a solo guitarist, and with his folk/rock band Hampster. He counts Michael Hedges as his biggest musical influence. "He reinvented the whole way acoustic guitar is played. I think he is the most important guitarist to emerge in the last decade."

James Wilkinson was born in Lincoln, New Zealand in 1969, and according to him, "was raised among folk music lovers who encouraged real involvement with music." He began playing guitar when he was ten, studied classical guitar at secondary school, and started writing his first compositions at fifteen. He credits local guitarist Graham Wardrop and British troubadours John Martyn and Ian Anderson as influences on his early musical growth.

His love of the countryside, especially the Southern Alps and the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand, are the wellspring of inspiration for the writing of his album of organic, reflective music Because of the Rain. His unique guitar sounds are evocative of watery ripples, torrents and flows through the dramatic terrain of his homeland.

Wilkinson's exploration of the melodic and interpretive limits of guitar led him to develop alternative tunings and a fretless twelve string guitar that contributes to his distinctive guitar style.

"I wanted to produce an original sound. It was a gamble, but it has worked fantastically. I can slide my fingers like on a double bass, and I can get unusual tones. At times it sounds like a cello or a sitar."

The lack of frets demands a precision in playing more like that of cello or violin. For Wilkinson, a guitar is not just a piece of wood with strings, it holds an endless possibility of sounds, and he is always seeking to expand the boundaries of his musical expression. His hybrid style of acoustic/jazz/folk guitar has undertones that are influenced by his fretless guitar and unusual tunings. He describes his music as an amalgam of jazz, folk and classical styles, with medieval and eastern influences. "It is a very personal expression of places I've been, landscapes I've seen."

Dynamic technique and great conceptual writing combine in this refreshing and original acoustic guitar album.

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