For many years, we have closely followed and admired the work of French luthier Bastien Burlot who has built guitars for the likes of Roland Dyens and Thomas Viloteau. However, it is with his most recent project - which he is calling "Alkemia" that we are really enthusiastic. Bastien is building a series of guitars with rosettes inspired by the great cathedrals of France and this is our fourth from him - this one inspired by La Cathédrale d’Amiens (the first in this series was from Chartres
, the second from Strasbourg
and the third was from Paris
This instrument is inspired by the cathedral in Amiens, particularly on the beautiful patterns of the cathedral’s iconic floor originally created in the year 1288 during the late Middle Ages which Bastien marvelously wove into the rosette design. In the center of this Gothic cathedral’s floor, there is a labyrinth that is linked to the one in the Chartres cathedral by having the same path arrangement and widths, however it differs from its round counterpart in its octagonal shape - Bastien pays tribute to this labyrinth in the artwork on his label, which rests symbolically, on the internal "floor" of the guitar. Perhaps its best to hear directly from Bastien some of his insights into this model:
"For all specialists in medieval architecture, the cathedral of Amiens represents an absolute masterpiece of Gothic art, of daring design and execution that has provided centuries of admiration. Standing beneath the stone vaulted nave at a height of 43 meters (140 feet) makes us think we are dreaming! The entire Notre Dame de Paris would comfortably fit in this incredible space – Amien’s volume being double that of Paris at 200,000 cubic meters. To get an idea of what such size means, consider that the Arc de Triomphe de Paris is barely taller. In Amiens, we see what at the time was the absolute limit of what was achievable: a few years after the completion of Amiens, the builders of the Beauvais cathedral would try to surpass Amiens in size, only to have the roof partially collapse, leaving Amiens the tallest enduring cathedral in France to this day. So it is with Amiens that Gothic architectures seems to have had found its limit. Concerning the creation of the rosette of this guitar, I chose this time to draw my inspiration from the magnificent floor of the cathedral. A centuries-old tradition attributes to each of the four motifs of the nave pavement the name of one of the four elements. 3 have been integrated into this rosette whose complexity of construction was a real technical challenge. The 4th element will therefore be the guitarist…"
For Bastien, these great cathedrals act as "bridges between the profane, material world and a more sacred one." It is this ideal that he is bringing into the construction of each one of the "Alkemia" guitars - indeed each guitar is intended to be a portal where the player can enter into the sublime and mysterious world of music. This particular instrument has fit and finish that are extremely clean as per this maker's usual high standard. The sonic and expressive qualities of the guitar are as impressive as its design and aesthetics, with a rich, big and bold sound, thick with deep resonances and carrying power across all registers. We are pleased to be offering such an interesting and elegant instrument from this creative and well-respected luthier and look forward to his next installment(s) in the series!
Photos of this guitar taken during construction.