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TOMO – Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works

Culminating a journey which took him from the traditional sounds of rural Missouri to the dense psychedelia of the Japanese underground, Tomo’s first solo release on Subvalent is a masterpiece of folk minimalism that calls on the spirits of Sandy Bull, Robbie Basho and Hamza El Din. Combining deft guitar fingerwork with hurdy gurdy, electric tamboura and voice, Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works invites the listener into a world of nostalgic melodies against a backdrop of hypnotic country blues, Nubian-tinged compositions, and understated American Primitivism.

Known primarily for his hurdy gurdy and saxophone work with Japanese free drone-psych unit Tetragrammaton and for collaborations with other Japanese artists such as Junzo Suzuki (Miminokoto, Acid Mothers Temple), Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro, C.C.C.C.) and À qui avec Gabriel, Tomo makes a confident return to the eclectic solo guitar playing of his earlier years. During an eight-year stint in small-town Missouri in his late teens, Tomo discovered blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, Hawaiian music and Dixieland jazz, learning guitar picking styles from a local banjo player and record collector of old Americana. In the years to follow, his interest in folk music and tuning systems spread to other instruments, and he became a proficient player of the oud, saz, sitar, banjo, violin, biwa and—more recently—hurdy gurdy and soprano saxophone.

Although owing a substantial debt to John Fahey and his folk brethren on the Takoma Label, the artist’s approach to traditional forms is very much his own. This album embarks on a mesmerizing and introspective journey that begins with Tomo’s deep appreciation for the relationship between harmony, temperament and drone. Although the guitar work takes center stage, the influence of the American minimalists (a la La Monte Young and Terry Riley) is also obvious, resulting in a dreamy alchemy between folk tradition and contemporary music.

A listening experience for fans of Steffen Basho-Junghans, James Blackshaw, Loren MazzaCane Connors and Peter Walker.

Format: 1 compact disc
Catalog no: SBV004
Price: $14 (includes free shipping worldwide)


Listeners hungry for dazzling 12-string guitar playing of the kind associated with James Blackshaw and others of his ilk should definitely do themselves a favour and investigate Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works by Tomo (Transcendental Organic Magical Objective). Blending elements of drone, raga, folk, and American minimalism (of the Terry Riley kind) into a bold hybrid, the Japan-based muso proves himself to be every bit a match for his American counterparts.
- textura

A truly mesmerising experience, this release deserves to be mentioned alongside the praise currently heaped upon similar artists such as James Blackshaw.
- Tasty Fanzine

That TOMO lays out over an hour of genre melting, culture melting, stress melting tunes is simply a gift of unheralded proportions. TOMO’s work here is magic, pure and simple, extending far beyond the already impressive (understatement) grandeur of its 20+ minute title track, and off into the horizon. Don’t miss this album.
- Anti-Gravity Bunny

One of the most amazing pieces is the 22 minute title track. It starts out with a harmonious mix of 6 string picking & hurdy gurdy drone and it just weaves a tremendous tapestry of surreal textures, a mid-tempo guitar pulse dancing over heaving tonal bliss. By the end of the 20 minutes, though, the guitar has mysteriously buried itself under the drone, which has gotten louder & louder until you’re left with a warm wall of static thrum glory.
- Thistle, Forest Gospel

On his new solo album, “Butterfly Dreams and Other Guitar Works” we can hear his virtuoso skills as a guitarist. On seven tracks, lasting between 2 and 22 minutes we can hear him enter and continuously develop the tradition of guitar players like John Fahey and Robbie Basho; great, fluid picking in raga/drone style. The calmness of the music embraces you, brings you into a meditative state… Few players could manage to keep the listeners attention on highest level for such a long time, but TOMO’s high skills as a player, composer and improviser makes this a surprisingly easy flowing journey.
- Stefan Eck, Terrascope