Acoustic guitar virtuoso Toulouse Engelhardt is back with a new album Mind Gardens. Toulouse got his first big break when he backed up The Byrds in 1973 on their final North American tour. He released his first album Toullusions in 1976. After becoming disenchanted with the record business he took a ten year absence from music and earned a Master's Degree in Botany. He has been a Professor of Biology at various Community Colleges in southern California. Eventually he returned to music and over time has put out a number of albums culminating with Mind Gardens released in 2014.
Engelhardt is a unique finger style acoustic guitarist and shows it throughout Mind Gardens. The music is hard to pigeonhole as his style incorporates many different styles from American bluegrass to classical to jazz.
The classically inspired "Nierika" begins the album with gently played arpeggios and a nice melody. For something more upbeat, the bluegrass arranged "Theme to the First Annual Bluebelly Lizard Roundup" is a real treat. The fast finger picking is very impressive. Even more so is "Dom Perignon" where the lightning fast picking will sear into your brain and you will wonder just how in the world he does it. Just as intriguing are Engelhardt's more ethereal soundscapes with the sparse "Golden Apple Vacancy" (depicting the vastness of space) and the beautifully flowing "Lavender Ascension II" immediately coming to mind.
The cover art, which reminds me of the camp science fiction movies of the '50s and '60s, is as unique as the music. Overall this album is quite a fun ride as Toulouse's guitar exploits never cease to amaze. If you are into acoustic guitar this album will be a worthy addition to your collection.
1. Nierika (2:16)
2. Theme to the First Annual Bluebelly Lizard Roundup (2:42)
3. Sarabande (2:08)
4. Luna (3:00)
5. Golden Apple Vacancy (3:09)
6. Dom Perignon (3:42)
7. Lavender Ascension II (3:08)
8. Simple Gifts "Live" (4:43)
9. Huckleberry Meadows Forevermore (4:54)
10. Lady of the Light (4:49)
11. Melting Stars…Breathing Heavens (1:42)
12. The Wedge (3:03)
13. Dialogue With an English Rill (3:13)
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