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Last year’s Imaginational Anthem: The Private Press, was one of the best compilations in quite some time, bringing to light a host of extremely obscure guitarists from the 1970s and 1980s — players who lurked in the considerable shadows of Fahey, Basho, Bull and Kottke, but still managed to find their own voices. Of course, even with this 21st century exposure, most of the LPs made by the Private Press‘ artists remain next-to-impossible to track down. Thankfully, Tompkins Square has begun reissuing a few in their entireties, giving us a fuller picture of what these eccentric soli players were up to.

Tom Armstrong :: White Pines

Tom Armstrong’s beguiling The Sky Is An Empty Eye, released in extremely limited quantities in 1987, sees the Texan layering both electric and acoustic guitars that spiral and spin in unexpected directions, whether it’s the mystical, chiming harmonics of “White Pines” or the fuzzy, off-kilter loner folk of the LP’s title track. It’s accessible, absorbing stuff, but doesn’t really fall into any American Primitive or new age-y category. Armstrong was operating in his own universe here.

Rick Deitrick :: At Morning

Where The Sky Is An Empty Eye is hazy and frayed, the sounds on River Sun River Moon and Gentle Wilderness, by solo guitarist Rick Deitrick, are intricate and intimate, every note perfectly placed. Recorded and released in the late 1970s, both LPs wouldn’t have been out of place at the time on the Wyndham Hil label — but Deitrick manages to rise above the sometimes placid textures of that scene, balancing a meditative, melodic vibe with a dark, restless undercurrent. Gorgeous stuff all around. words / t wilcox

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