Initially inspired by the guitarists of the 60’s Takoma label to teach himself fingerpicking, James Blackshaw writes long-form pieces primarily for solo 12-string guitar and piano that are heavily influenced by minimalist composers and European classical music and which use drones, overtones and repeating patterns alongside a strong inclination for melody to create instrumental music that is both intelligent, hypnotic and emotionally charged.
Born in London in 1981, Blackshaw has so far released seven solo studio albums, one live recording and has also appeared on numerous compilations in the last five years. "O True Believers" (2006, Important Records/Bo’weavil Recordings), "The Cloud of Unknowing" (2007, Tompkins Square) and "Litany of Echoes" (2008, Tompkins Square) have received huge critical acclaim from printed and online publications including Pitchfork, Billboard, The Wire, The Observer, The Times, Uncut, The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Onion, Magnet and Acoustic Guitar Magazine. "The Cloud of Unknowing" was also listed as one of the 50 best albums of 2007 by The Wire (no. 24) and Pitchfork (no. 34). "Litany of Echoes" was listed as Uncut Magazine's 13th Best Album of 2008.
Blackshaw has recently signed to Michael Gira's (Swans/Angels of Light) Young God Records label and his seventh studio album was released in May 2009.
Blackshaw is currently a member of Current 93, Brethren of The Free Spirit (duo with Jozef Van Wissem) and performs live with Pantaleimon. He has also performed live with Seiichi Yamamoto (ex-Boredoms), Ben Chasney + Sir Richard Bishop, Peter Wright, Duane Pitre and Michael Gira.
He has toured extensively in Europe, US and Japan, playing approximately 200 shows since 2005 in a broad range of environments from sold-out 1,000 capacity venues supporting Jose Gonzalez to intimate church shows and institutions such as The Douglas Hynde Gallery in Dublin and The ICA in London. He has featured on National Public Radio in the US, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and performed live on VPRO television in The Netherlands. His song "Fix" from "The Glass Bead Game" has been used in a series of recent Film4 promotional trailers.