There's no adequate single tag in Bandcamp for this music. The three albums* are DIY folk art, album-length compositional statements; mosaics made of fractured pieces of classical etudes, Fahey-esque compositional folk, blues, rock, jazz, field recordings, jazz, dub, and a tape-splice aesthetic along the lines of Teo Macero and Hoger Czukay.
Sounding at times like the work of Derek Bailey, the connection is only superficial -- Bailey strove for a new language of idiom-free music, whereas this music is a reconfiguration and celebration of multiple idioms.
A closer comparison is the music of Captain Beefheart though that music reconfigures fewer idioms than these albums do.
"Already, one potential audience is imagined for this collection of two dozen solo guitar pieces: fans of Captain Beefheart's instrumental solos for the same instrument. Guitarist James Beaudreau, playing both improvised and composed pieces and using editing as a way of making one appear to be the other, or else not, has made an impressive debut with this effectively recorded collection." - Eugene Chadbourne on All Music (writing about Java Street Bagatelles)
"James Beaudreau's 2006 Java St. Bagatelles (Workbench) made a nice splash in the music press, with glowing reviews in The Wire, All Music Guide, and Tokafi. Fresh Twigs is an equally compelling follow-up, featuring the delicious picking and melodic strengths of Java St. combined with mixing room agility and intriguing compositional elements. Inspired by pioneering producers Holger Czukay and Teo Macero, Beaudreau has created a CD of rewarding music that only strengthens upon repeated listening… Fresh Twigs finds Beaudreau fulfilling the promise of Java St. Bagatelles and then some. Beaudreau is a musician of vast talent, with a wealth of ideas and exquisitely sensitive ears. It'll be interesting to hear what he does next." - Flo Wetzel, All About Jazz
"I would suppose that for James Beaudreau, as for Brecht, the intention is to focus the audience’s critical attention on the work, to make them aware of the act of listening, rather than taking for granted the automatic processes by which certain sounds reference certain socially constituted assumptions. Where he and Brecht part company, to my mind, is in Brecht’s intention to privilege an intellectual response over an emotional one. While Beaudreau encourages us to listen closely, with conscious attention, to listen critically to the entirety of the recorded sound, the end point of that process is still a musical meaning, which in my view can never be wholly, or even predominantly intellectual." - Oliver Arditi
"There is an odd charm at work here where different themes overlap, connect and/or intersect. Each piece present a different theme, idea or a handful of related fragments that somehow fit together just right. Some of these fragments are elegant and some are slightly twisted, yet they all seem related to one another. What I dig most about this is the occasionally delicate sections that are both soothing and a bit perplexing at the same time. A few of these tracks have that Frith-like skewered pop sound that was apparent on "Gravity" or "Speechless". You never know where some of these pieces will end up, yet with some time & perspective, they all fit into a certain magical place." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
* Three albums: Java Street Bagatelles (2006), Fresh Twigs (2008), Astral Law (2011)
released May 17, 2011
James Beaudreau; steel string acoustic guitar, nylon string classical guitar, electric guitars, bass, drums, objects, field recordings, recording, mixing.