Down Beat - p.744 stars out of 5
- "The success of LIVE IN TASMANIA, from beginning to end, stems from Fahey's confident attacks in this all-original program."
Personnel: John Fahey (guitar); John Fahey.
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Authors: Peter Noble; Jim O'Rourke.
Recording information: Hobart University, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (10/15/1980).
Arranger: John Fahey.
LIVE IN TASMANIA's liner notes report that John Fahey decided to do this 1980 concert on impulse, while drunk, on a plane trip over Australia. The concert/recording was then thrown together in four days, but with Fahey it is best to expect the unexpected. An acoustic guitarist of notorious idiosyncrasy and technical accomplishment, Fahey's music fuses traditional folk, blues, and bluegrass with meditative drones and contemporary classical flourishes. That Fahey blends these into a seamless whole sounding at once old-timey, avant, contemporary, and timeless is the real marvel.
In concert, Fahey favors extended improvisation in which themes are explored, deconstructed, and linked with other themes that organically build, crest, and recede. Fahey plays with tremendous intensity here (the shifting, minor dissonance of "The Approaching of the Disco Void" is a case in point), and his precise sense of rhythm and dazzling fingerpicking often make it sound like several guitarists are playing at once. The stately version of "Waltzing Matilda" is the most recognizable piece, while "Indian-Pacific R.R. Blues," with its shifting time and mesmerizing repeated root note, is arguably the best. This is brilliant live album, and the first one in Fahey's voluminous discography.