Theoxenia, 'Continental Breeze'
"Continental Breeze," the closing track from Theoxenia's new album (Adventures in) Stasis, blends classical antiquity and 21st-century sonic experimentation. The song and album are a solo project of David Shuford, who employs an arsenal of traditional and contemporary instrumentation including bouzouki, kanjira, mandole and synthesizer. Since the early 1990s, the New Yorker has been a founding member of No-Neck Blues Band, Egypt Is the Magick #, Enos Slaughter, D. Charles Speer & The Helix and Rhyton. Shuford has used that impressive roster, and now Theoxenia, to pick through the sinew and bone of psych-improv, roots music and drone, with each group encased in a skin of homespun folk-gnosticism.
The languid "Continental Breeze" expands that search over a bed of electronic hums and a repetitious four-note fingerpicked motif. Shuford delivers a call-and-response to himself as plucked arpeggios explore, reconfigure, attack and decay throughout the song's patient buildup and closing cascade. Over the course of "Continental Breeze," Shuford meets and exceeds the challenge of balancing reverence and radicalism.
His technical fluency and evident passion surely stamp Shuford's passport with the vast itinerary of fellow travelers John Fahey, Sandy Bull and Sir Richard Bishop. Yet on the level of sheer aesthetic, the Georgia-born Shuford is arguably tuned closest to the music of fellow Southern-roots-to-NYC expat/visionary Henry Flynt and his ongoing blending of ancient microtonality, ghostly strings and electronics.
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