The universe is making music all the time

Step Right Up: Daniel Bachman

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Born and raised in the town of Fredericksburg in Virginia, Daniel Bachman (whose guitar playing style has been dubbed “psychedelic appalachia”) is a guitarist of prodigious talent. This summer Bachman completed a hugely successful tour of Europe and will recommence touring his homeland when he tours the east coast of America this August.

Illustration & Words: Craig Carry


At only twenty-two years of age, Virginia-born Daniel Bachman has quietly established himself as one of the finest guitarists around. Listening to Bachman on record brings to mind an array of artists (from John Fahey to Mark Fosson and from William Tyler to Glenn Jones) and similarly transports the listener to a faraway space and time in a deeply engaging and enriching manner. Fittingly, Daniel shared the stage with both William Tyler and Mark Fosson last year while on his U.S. tour (Fosson joined him for the length of the tour while Tyler joined him while playing at his home of Nashville). Despite his tender age, Bachman has already released a lot of material of his own solo material. Formerly going under the pseudonym “Sacred Harp”, Bachman has been recording under his own name for the last couple of years. Bachman has released a multitude of material including tape cassette releases and strictly limited capacity material. His records “Oh Be Joyful” (released on the One Kind Favor label) and “Seven Pines” (put out by Tompkins Square) were both issued in 2012 and served to establish Bachman’s name in the minds of listeners in Europe as well as his native America.

My first time witnessing Daniel Bachman in a live setting was July 4th of this month. A sunny summer’s evening in the intimate setting of Gulpd Cafe (and organized by Plugd Records) served the perfect backdrop for the prodigious talents of Bachman. Witnessing the mastery of Bachman’s guitar playing (very much in the same mould as the “American Primitive” school as advocated by John Fahey in the late 50’s and 60’s) is an absolute joy to savor. Seeing first hand the masterful technique he has honed over the years is a sight to behold. Whether quietly plucking notes (where the notes are left to linger for a time) or strumming intricately picking out notes in a forceful-yet-emotive manner, the music at all times conveys such real feeling and true artistry. Seeing one musician making such incredibly dense, textured and nuanced work on his own is something to truly marvel at, and reminded me of seeing William Tyler perform solo this year (while on his “Practically Friends” tour alongside M.C. Taylor’s Hiss Golden Messenger) where a myriad of feelings and a vast array of impressions are cast upon the listener. The guitar and guitarist become one. And the listener is truly fortunate to witness such an inspiring occasion.

In fact, like Tyler, I listen to Bachman’s work as a storyteller. Despite having no words to tell, the music seems to communicate rich and immersive stories from experiences made by the artist who wishes to share, in turn, those poignant memories with us, the listeners. In fact, I feel words would only lessen the impact. We would suddenly have a particular idea or theme in our minds, whereas on listening to Bachman’s creations our imaginations can conjure up any number of themes, feelings, experiences. Listening to “Seven Pines” (the wonderful title-track or the sublime “Mount Olive Cohoke”) and “Oh Be Joyful” brings to mind scenes from Wim Wenders’ classic road movie “Paris Texas” where a man at odds with the world wanders the desert landscape under Ry Cooder’s evocative score. Additionally, I feel there is also a wonderful connection between such music as Bachman’s and that of the photobook, particularly such road trips across America made frozen in time by Robert Frank in his 1958 classic “The Americans.” Armed with a 35mm Leica, Frank traversed the length of the country by car and – through eighty-three finally selected photographs – Frank redefined photography in the process. His poetic pictures were created through his off-kilter, intuitive and immediate style. Such intuitive and immediate styles certainly can be seen in Bachman’s art also where it feels (listening to Bachman live and on record) that he’s creating the pieces almost as he plays them where sparks of creativity and raw honesty can be felt – and admired greatly – on every single note that is played.

Fittingly, “Seven Pines” was issued last year by independent label Tompkins Square, a label who had previously released such classic records as William Tyler’s “Behold The Spirit” and Hiss Golden Messenger’s “Poor Moon” (not to forget the aforementioned Mark Fosson and his classic Fahey sessions “Digging In The Dust”). The album was based around Bachman’s experiences made from living and working in Philadelphia over the course of a twelve-month spell. The resulting seven heavenly pieces of music hint at a wide array of feelings and experiences, from intense abandon and exhilaration to dazed wonderment and acute homesickness. A real sense of place is conjured up in each and every recording.

Bachman’s steel fingerstyle guitar playing is sure to only further establish his rightful place as one of the most exciting musical talents around as he continues on his beautiful journey.


“Seven Pines” is out now on Tompkins Square. “Oh Be Joyful” is out now on One Kind Favor and reissued on cd/digital by Debacle Records. 

Daniel Bachman tours USA this August (All tour dates are here)


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