(CD - Revenant, 1998, LP - Exiled Records, 2016)
Burning Caravan 2:46
Pedro's Last Ride 2:36
Rose Room 1:51
That this solo instrumental album from one of the Sun City Girls would come out on John Fahey's Revenant label isn't a surprise at all once one hears the opening romp, "Burning Caravan." There's the same sense of artistic reach, delicacy, and skill on guitar that one would expect from Fahey, but, of course, Bishop has his own particular obsessions and roots, which he showcases well throughout. Besides having a punning title, Salvador Kali also indicates the breadth of Bishop's musical roots from Europe to Asia and beyond, drawing much like his parent band on any number of worldwide sources and sounding like something he almost created out of thin air. Bishop plays guitar, harmonium, and piano, with no other guests necessary for his excellent work. Overdubbing creates the illusion of more than one performer, and such is his empathy for his work that it does often sound like a live duo or trio going at it. A variety of short and skillful tracks surface throughout, like the jaunty "Pedro's Last Ride," with a flamenco-touched lead line over a rhythmic series of chords, and the enchanting final song, "Morella." The total standouts are the longer ones, though, where Bishop shows off his chops without sounding like pointless technical flash at all. "Rasheed" is the first, its extensive acoustic midsection a lovely stunner in his brisk, constantly changing playing, from slower fingerpicking to sudden fretboard runs. "Al-Darazi," as could be guessed from the title, plays around with Arabic and nearby regional melodies, beginning with a heavily echoed piano part that continues and develops into a marvelous showcase for both the instrument and his own skills. "Kamakhya" mixes acoustic guitar with harmonium for an at once dreamy and sprightly performance, well worth the listening to by anyone interested in drone pieces even though it doesn't sound like a stereotypical drone.
- Ned Raggett (All Music Guide)
Solo albums by guitarists from well-established rock bands are notoriously vain affairs that are nearly always bereft of the qualities that made their bands great in the first place. But the ultra-prolific, 10,000 Leagues Under The Ground trio Sun City Girls aren't your average rock band, and Salvador Kali isn't your average punt down the ego river. The "Girls" (actually three guys) can and do commit to disc just about anything that comes to their collective mind, from arcane radio plays to ethnographic forgeries to twisted rock epics, so if guitarist Rick Bishop wanted to indulge himself he's already got the appropriate venue. Instead this record is marked by its discipline; whether they last two minutes or fifteen, each piece is defined and purposeful. Bishop is a splendid acoustic guitarist with a sure touch and an impressive vocabulary gleaned from the Spanish flamenco and North Indian classical traditions with a bit of Belgian Django Reinhardt's gypsy swing jazz mixed in. For variety he tosses in a Moorish piano fantasia that conjures images of kif-addled cowboys doing sabre dances. Some of Bishop's compositions isolate one influence, others melt them together, but all of them possess a singular grace that deserves to be heard far beyond the confines of underground rock.
- Bill Meyer (Ink Blot Magazine)