Tompkins Square's label-defining, genre-defining series of solo guitar music, Imaginational Anthem, turns 10 this year. According to label founder Josh Rosenthal, that anniversary adds an important footnote to their latest installment, which was compiled by the fantastic young guitarist Hayden Pedigo: Pedigo was just 10 years old when Volume 1 came out, Rosenthal points out. That's a good sign, he says: "The acoustic guitar hasn't run out of ideas yet."
It hasn't settled on a single home, either. The roster for Volume 7 crisscrosses the globe: there's Slowdive's Simon Scott, the Maltese artist M. Mucci, Minneapolis' Christoph Bruhn, Argentina's Mariano Rodriguez, and Dylan Golden Aycock from Oklahoma. That's an impressive spread, and it reflects a cohesive understanding of the state of the acoustic guitar.
When I interviewed 20-year-old Pedigo last year, he explained how he got the curatorial gig. Following a chance encounter with Rosenthal in Texas, Pedigo had simply emailed asking if he could put together a compilation—audacious, but seemingly not out of character. "Honestly, I think it's one of the best in the series," Pedigo told me, and I'm inclined agree.
One of the brilliant and terrible things about wordless music is that it's so hard to put into words. You listen, even distractedly, and little tendrils and licks imprint themselves somewhere inside of you—but it's all so vague. I played this album's opening track, Andrew Weathers' "Olympic Peninsula Blues," a few times a few weeks ago, and now and forever it triggers some weird combination of memory and the absence of memories, thoughts and a space for thoughts waiting to be filled, like one part song and one part emotional situation. Many songs do that, but these songs do it better.
Stream the whole record below, and pre-order Imaginational Anthem Volume 7 here, before its release on February 17th.