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Karjalainen; Elmo: The £5.99 Free Guitar Album

Already known for his contributions to the bands Deathlike Silence, Seagrave, Conquest, and Kilpi, Finnish guitar maestro Elmo Karjalainen first ventured into the world of the solo guitar instrumentals back in 2012. Three years later and this daring musician is back to try something new – give away his music for free. Well, free that is if you'd like the download, the CD does cost, but it also comes armed with three alternate cuts that add interest to an already engaging album.

By law, any guitar instrumental album review has to have the words Vai, Satriani and, on occasion, Malmsteen in it, so let's do that and say that yes, The Free Guitar Album does contain strong influences from each. And yet you would confuse very little on this 8 track (or 11) affair for any of those three genre leaders, Elmo bringing his own style into focus across an album that surprises by being eclectic and possessing of a knowing sense of humour. The latter aspect is ably demonstrated through a couple of spoken introductions which break things up nicely and are genuinely chucklesome. Cleverly they are also very short, so they don't get in the way too much on repeat listens.

However it's obviously the music itself that matters most and on that score, there's little to fault. The punderfully titled "Instrumetal" opens proceedings, a roaming bass line paving the way for a scything burst of guitar that wails, whooshes and howls quite magnificently. It's a rather jaw dropping opening, however that effect is somewhat diminished by a singularly annoying drum (machine) snare sound, that working at pace clank-clank-clank-clank-clanks into your head relentlessly. It's not that the beat isn't interesting, but the sound itself is truly off putting when it is given way too much room to dominate, as it is here. Things settle down on that score as the album progresses and you can just about forgive the percussive setbacks as Elmo time and again weaves guitar lines and wields his axe ferociously but with pinpoint precision. "Don't Quit Yer Day Job" adds a clever layer of quirkiness as the guitars riff and roar, while "Incontinental Breakfast" adds a more progressive edge that brings an airiness and lightness that had previously not been heard. "Algorhythm" continues the punning titles, but this time with a powerful burst of aggressive passion that keeps you fully engaged, while "She Sleeps On The Moon" takes a different tack altogether, being the album's most restrained and possibly most memorable moment.

"Noises" continues the quirky theme, 39 seconds of well, noises that we could easily do without, although "The Gentle Art Of Listening" again heads into proggier territory. Leaving "The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone)" (the puns keep on punning!) and "Relax" to close things out in quite majestic style.

Ignore the daft looking cover and delve deep into the music of a talented and skilled guitarist who knows how to write pieces of music that keep you thoroughly and eclectically entertained. If you sample the free version, keep in mind the the full CD adds alternate takes of "Don't Quit Yer Day Job", "Algorhythm" and "She Sleeps On The Moon", each with different solos (the results being really rather interesting). However whichever version you plump for, if guitar instrumental albums are your thing, this is an album not to be ignored.

Track Listing
1. Instrumetal
2. Don´t Quit Yer Day Job      
Clark-san (spoken)  
3. Incontinental Breakfast
4. She Sleeps on the Moon
5. Algorhythm      
6. The Gentle Art of Listening
7. The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone)
8. Relax
9. Don´t Quit Yer Day Job (alt. solos)
10. Algorhythm (alt. solos)
11. She Sleeps on the Moon (alt. solos)

Added: October 28th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Elmo Karjalainen online
Hits: 1408
Language: english

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