Black and white photo of guitarist Sir Richard Bishop performing
Credit: Karl L.

Sir Richard Bishop has spent about as much time recording under his own name as he did with the Sun City Girls, a deftly bohemian, genre-bending avant-rock act that dissolved after the 2007 cancer death of founding drummer Charlie Gocher. For almost 30 years, the band (which also included Bishop’s brother Alan) teased at the edges of popular music from around the globe—occasionally in a problematic way. The nonsense vocals on “Soi Cowboy,” from the 1996 album 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda, are a broad, cartoonish approximation of an Asian language. Bishop, though, has dedicated a significant portion of his life to travel and something that approaches ethnomusicology, and he’s created a guitar language along the way that’s as indebted to Indonesian gamelan as it is to Delta blues. His latest album, 2020’s Oneiric Formulary (Drag City), does an admirable job of collecting and assimilating his various tastes, as opposed to the 2015 all-acoustic affair Tangier Sessions or the 2009 Egyptian fantasia The Freak of Araby. Some of the tracks on his new record cleave history, though; “Graveyard Wanderers” eschews Eastern and Western traditions as Bishop assembles a collection of electronic gestures and watery noises over the course of about eight minutes. Showgoers likely won’t encounter this side of Bishop’s music during this Constellation show; in a live setting, he frequently sticks to fingerstyle guitar. But just as he embraces electronic experimentation for a single track on Oneiric Formulary, Bishop also slots in an ensemble tune, “Dust Devils,” with droning strings and reeds and repetitive drums. The tune’s juxtaposition with other selections here recalls the Sun City Girls (specifically their pick-and-choose appropriations), and so do the spacey, layered guitars of “The Coming of the Rats.” Some of Bishop’s acoustic fare on the record (and in his live sets) owes a debt to blues practitioners, but he’s been able to cultivate a singular voice as an instrumentalist while continually surprising listeners with new turns and worldly combinations.

Sir Richard Bishop, Fri 3/18, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $20, 18+