Before Michael Hedges, before the CandyRat label, there was Toulouse Engelhardt, still one of the best-kept secrets of the guitar pickers' world, a wunderkind respected by players everywhere on planet Earth though little known to the general public beyond a fiercely loyal small cult.
The promo lit accompanying this release is just a tad off, crediting the 1975 Takoma release of Toullusions as Engelhardt's debut. Actually, as far as can be determined, the independent Sierra Briar Records first issued it that same year, from which Takoma was enlightened, reprinting the gem. I yet have my Sierra copy and clearly remember running into the Takoma slab only after picking the other up. Nonetheless, Engelhardt was the last member of the original legendary Takoma Seven and hasn't lost a centimeter of his edge since, through the years touring with the Byrds, Jack Bruce, Ry Cooder, Dick Dale, Kenny Rankin, Adrian Blelew, Todd Rundgren, and John Stewart among many others, even sharing stages twice with Zubin Mehta & the L.A. Philharmonic.
The fingerpicker's style and modes are as eclectic as ever they've been, soaked variously in lush slow themes, complex interlocking lines, abstract conjugations, and sometimes absolutely insane angular asides sounding as though crafted by a berserk computer with an alien aesthetic otherwise unknown to the denizens of the green planet. The Mondrian-ish cover to Perpendicular Worlds is not sufficient warning as to how strange this guy can get. For that, you'd need to collide Mondrian, Ernst, Giger, Griffin, and Dali to approximate the ambiance. Listen to his version of Hendrix's Third Stone from the Sun and tell me I'm wrong. But that's only the beginning, adeptly counterpoised by stunningly hypnotic trad playing is a welter of seemingly impossible outbursts peppered pell mell throughout this unique release…only the third he's emitted in over 30 years…and one never knows what to expect next: florid classicality or extreme post-modern pulsars. Leo Kottke has only very rarely had true competition, but Toulouse Engelhardt has ever been at the top of that list.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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