Robbie Basho – Visions of the Country

Style: American Primitivism, Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Raga
Vibe: Mystical, Nature, Open, Passionate, Pastoral, Peaceful, Airy, Contemplative, Earthy, Impressionistic, Meditative, Morning, Spring, Spiritual,
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Indian-Influenced, Sparse, Technical

John Fahey – Volume 2: Death Chants, Breakdowns, & Military Waltzes

Style: American Primitivism, Acoustic Blues, Folk

Vibe: Meditative, Loner, Morning, Rustic, Spring, Spiritual, Pastoral, Bittersweet, Hypnotic, inspiration, Melancholy, Nature, Raw, Warm 

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Technical, Fingerstyle, Instrumental, Sparse, Progressive

Loren Connors – Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko

Style: Ambient Blues, Solo Electric Guitar

Vibe: Longing, Soothing, Nocturnal, Impressionistic, Lonely, Meditative, Melancholy, Suspenseful,

Musical Qualities: Sparse, Improvisation (solo), Atmospheric, Instrumental, Lo-fi

Bill Orcutt – Odds Against Tomorrow

Style: American Primitvism, Ambient Blues, Solo Electric Guitar

Vibe: Meditative, Longing, Spiritual, Pastoral, Loose, Kinetic

Musical Qualities: Improvisation, Dissonance, Instrumental, Sparse

David Grubbs – The Coxcomb [Review]

Style: Primitivist Theater, Avant-Folk Minimalism, Drone

Vibe: Pastoral, Alienation, Hypnotic, Abstract

Musical Attributes: Sparse, Theatrical, Repetitive, Minimalist, Acoustic

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Voices, Organ, Cello, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Saxophone

Elizabeth Cotten – Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar

Style: Appalachian Folk, Folk Blues, American Primitive Guitar



Vibe: Bittersweet, Rural, Spiritual, Intimate, Pastoral, Warm, Rootsy



Musical Attributes: Acoustic Fingerstyle, Solo Performance, Sparse, Technical

Jim White and Marisa Anderson – The Quickening

This impressionistic and contemplative collaboration channels deep American folk roots through free flowing improvisations. The panoramic and sensitive drumming of Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power, etc) is a perfect match for Marisa Anderson’s primitivist guitar sensibilities, which feel both immediate and abstract.

David Grubbs – Prismrose

Style: Free Folk, American Primitive Guitar, Poly-Free Improvisation, Experimental Rock

Vibe: Contemplative, Pastoral, Loner, Moody, Melancholy, Mellow, Abstract, Eerie

Musical Qualities: Improvisation, Complex, Electro-Acoustic

John Fahey & His Orchestra – Old Fashioned Love

Another interesting one from Fahey, side A consists of some amazingly intricate guitar duets with Woodrow Mann, including my favorite Fahey song “Jaya Shiva Shankarah”. Side B takes a strange turn though…halfway through the title track a 10-piece dixieland band kicks for a few tracks of New Orleans-style jazz. The album closes in a more familiar place with a contemplative solo piece that most Fahey fans would dig.

Sandy Bull – Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo

On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.

Six Organs of Admittance – Asleep on the Floodplains

Pastoral psychfolk from guitar master Ben Chasney. Here his serene acoustic fingerpicking is occasionally accompanied by harmonium drones and trippy guitar overdubs, but overall the album is extremely sparse and meditative.