Synaesthetic Monk's Blues

Phantasmagoria, magic lantern shows, spectacles without substance. They achieved complete sensory experiences through noise, incense, lightening, water. There may be a time when we'll attend Weather Theaters to recall the sensation of rain.

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Location: Ithaca, New York, United States

The main thing a musician would like to do, is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe... I'm using the insides of sounds to move around in a very subtle way which, I think, ends up being inevitable. I feel it's the only solution to that particular problem that I presented myself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So, I've acquired my copy of Satch's new album and I thought I'd post a review here in my blog which may for once be of utility to other robots, aliens, guitar players, anarchists and tantriks. As fair warning, I just got the album yesterday, so these are purely first impressions, but I'm going to make them as detailed as possible. I initially thought of avoiding the song by song analysis, but ended up going with it anyway. I'll try and offer a cohesive perspective on the album as a whole.

Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock

  1. The album starts off with an ominous dark vibe as "Musterion" kicks off. To draw a comparison, it reminded me sort of the song "Belly Dancer" or "Oriental Melody" from the SBM album. There are definitely some interesting moments in the song, Satch's playing is quite twisted ! The song retains a format similar to most of Satch's "standard" more rock oriented songs - all in all an interesting album opener.
  2. "Overdrive" continues almost where "Musterion" left off - however, it gives the listener the feeling of really settling into the album. Heavy rock-solid guitar arrangements over a pretty basic drum and bass groove. However the layering of guitar sounds really thickens up the mix, and Satch is playing those memorable hooks and big sounding chords! This is the first kind of "take notice" stereotypical Satch solo. A very pronounced minor tonality and some really nice melodies. A pretty guitar heavy and dramatic closure to the song leading straight into...
  3. "I Just Wanna Rock" - whether a reference to the old Twisted Sister song, I don't know, but it is what it says it is. This is very similar to "Crowd Chant" off Super Colossal. Straight up bare bones rocker, which is spiced up by Satch using a Talk-Box - this is definitely going to be one for the audience.
  4. And this is where things get real hip ~ from ZZ's dissonant tenor lines which segue into "Professor Satchafunkilus". It's all about the funk! Satch's layered melodic guitar lines pretty much tell the listener to get off the seat and move one's posterior on the downbeat. Very hip and funky, funkier than "The Snake" off his first album or "Cool#9". This is a real funky tune which I have no doubt Satch is going to use to build off to an Satchanormous jam when he plays it live! Some real sneaky and hip soloing going on there too and the song drops out to ZZ repeating his melodies - works just brilliantly.
  5. and "Revelation". We could have done without this one. Nothing new here at all. Satch doing some soulful soloing over what sounds like a backing track. Without letting my feelings for Satch as one hip dude coming into the way, it's a pretty boring track. Nothing new here, though to its credit the song ends with some really nice soloing from Satch and picks up in intensity. But overall, disappointing given its name, anything but a revelation.
  6. "Come on Baby" is the trademark love song that is there in every Satch album. Again, it is what is says it is. It has been done before, but there's some inventive and nice soloing in there, and the main melody is really nice almost 60ish hippie sounding.
  7. "Out of the Sunrise" is yet again something that I personally could've done without on the album. It's pretty much like a nondescript 80s sounding track with Satch soloing on top of it, probably the lowest point of the album. Its only saving grace is when Satch breaks off into the solo halfway into the song, but it still ends with the hateful cheesy melody lines.
  8. Thankfully Satch keeps it real by breaking into "Diddle-Y-A-Doo-Dat" with a real prog sounding intro in odd time with harmonized guitar lines which quickly segues into a down and dirty drum and bass groove. There's almost a nod to the Jeff Beck group in the way Satch explores the melodies. The shortest song in the album, it almost brings the listener back on track to let us know Satch means business. What's really unique about this song is the presence of a dirty organ arrangement - something that I've never in the past 6 years of listening to Satriani, ever really heard!
  9. And we're down to the last two songs on the album. Middle eastern percussions and an open stringed melody line lead into "Asik Vaysel" which is in my opinion the album's highlight. This is pure quintessential Satch doing his thing. The mystical intro leads into a straight up shred fest as only Satch can do it. Reminiscent of a live version of "Circles" in terms of song structure, but similar to "Surfing with the Alien" or "Flying in a Blue Dream" in terms of energy. Insane soloing and some great melodies and grooves.
  10. "Andulasia" starts off in a similar manner, stripped down acoustic melodies interweaving through each other with some beautiful acoustic soloing before we get hit with this wall of transcendental guitar noise as the band kicks into full flow. Satch takes over the proceedings and blows you away like only he can. Great way to wrap up the album, you gotta listen to it to feel the energy and the vibe.

So that's about it for first impressions on the album. I'd give it a 4 out of 5 rating. The songs which stand out, definitely grab the listener and gets 'em involved into Satch's playing. However I could have done without the fillers in the album. It's not like they are bad songs, but Satch being Satch makes us have rather groovy expectations. However this album has great potential for repeat listens and though Satriani doesn't necessarily break new ground, he does his thing with panache and style. I had secretly hoped for Dave LaRue to be playing bass on the album rather than Matt Bissionette - I do NOT dig his bass playing, and Dave La Rue works incredibly well with Satch. So I was disappointed that Satch enlisted Matt Bissionette still. Therefore even though you have a drum powerhouse like Jeff Campitelli slamming the skins, the energy from the band is not at its optimum. However that said, I'm sure when they play live, the situation would be rectified. This is not Satch's best album, but it's ultimately pure Satch, so it by default makes it something worth getting your hands on.

Professor Satchafunkilus has entered the building...

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Transcendental Sky Guitar : it speaks in strange tongues and the strings vibrate with cosmic energies.