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Mattsson, Lars Eric: Earthbound

Although multi-instrumentalist Lars Eric Mattsson keeps busy working on several musical projects and running Finland's Lion Music, he hasn't released an instrumental solo album in 14 years. Unlike that first record, 1991's neoclassical-influenced Electric Voodoo, Earthbound (as its title suggests) is a little less overblown. Featuring 10 tracks that range from less than two minutes long to almost eight minutes, Earthbound explores both melodic and progressive soundscapes and features Mattsson playing all guitars and what little bass, keyboards and sitar can be heard. Eddie Sledgehammer mightily handles all drums and percussion.

Mattsson boasts exceptional chops, and to his credit, he does try to make Earthbound stand out from the onslaught of instrumental electric guitar albums. The psychedelic schizophrenia of "Time Capsule," the jazzy breakdowns in the title track and "The Orchid," the acoustic strumming that characterizes "Song of the Woods," and the Middle Eastern reverb in "Delhi" are unexpected and welcome detours from the typical fastest-fingers contests into which most instrumental albums devolve. But a little more variety would have made this disc even more satisfying.

All that said, I'm just not sure how many more albums like this the world needs

Track Listing:
1) From the Skies
2) Earthbound
3) Time Capsule
4) Delhi
5) ShredHead
6) The Orchid
7) Free Wind
8) Song of the Woods
9) Closed Eyes
10) Later

Added: February 7th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Lion Music
Hits: 2274
Language: english

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Mattsson, Lars Eric: Earthbound
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-02-07 16:37:16
My Score:

Earthbound is the first instrumental album from noted Finnish guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson in almost 15 years.The last time he did an instrumental album was in 1991 when he released Electric Voodoo, a neoclassical shred album. After doing his interesting project simply called Mattsson last year, with a lot of amazing singers on it, Lars decided it was time to write another album full of instrumental songs.

But how does his new work Earthound compare to his back catalog?

Here is what the man himself says: "Earthbound is definitely more progressive and heavier without sacrificing the melodies. I tried hard to mix heavy with light to avoid a sterile and monotonous soundscape."

Quite a fair description. The songs are less derivative this time around. Mattsson doesn't shred through each piece like he did before. His playing exhibits plenty of restraint and strong melodic content. He utilises lots of different tones and styles. From happy, Zappa-like quirkiness on "From the Skies" to his more neoclassical playing, Earthbound is a more diverse album overall. Beautiful clean acoustic guitars and heavier rhythm-laden melodies permeat the rocking title track. Mattsson's bass is very pronounced here and forms the backbone of the song. Contrary to the his more complex album War, this CD is more straightforward and very guitar-friendly. The songs are all graced with solid rhythmic crunch and groovy melodies. Eddie Sledgehammer handles the drumming on the album, and everything else is done by Mattsson himself. Some electric sitar can be heard on "Time Capsule", a mostly acoustic song in its first half with weird percussive beats. It then develops into a more melodic hardrocker though. Speaking of percussion, this is further explored on the relatively shorter track "Song of the Woods". The exotic licks on "Delhi", the 80's neoclassical type of song "ShredHead", and the essential ballad "The Orchid" are some other songs that keep the album interesting. I also like the experimental keyboards used on "Closed Eyes", however subtle they may be. The guitar solo on this song is one of the most original pieces I've heard from Mattsson.

All songs are written, arranged, recorded, and mixed by the man himself. A true solo album indeed. Nothing too groundbreaking, and I'd much prefer War over this one, but it's certainly a lot better than those mindless shred discs coming out every two weeks.

Mattsson, Lars Eric: Earthbound
Posted by Mike Blackburn, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-01-20 07:20:23
My Score:

Earthbound, Lars first instrumental solo release in almost 15 years follows closely on the heels of War, his band concept album also released in 2005. The title is very appropriate to the uncluttered, clean, organic approach to this project. Lars himself comments "After finishing my progressive metal rock opera WAR early this year I felt the need to do something that was quite the opposite, so I took an almost minimalist approach and as opposed to what you hear on WAR. My new solo album EARTHBOUND is just me and a drummer (long time partner in crime Eddie Sledgehammer), as few instruments as possible, no vocals and very little keyboards, so it really is a guitar album in every aspect. It's not overblown when it comes to production and recording with the aim to keep things simple whilst still exploring new territory."

It must be added that the last solo record, Electric Voodoo/The Exciter was very much a neo-classical affair and to be sure, those influences are still evident here, particularly on tracks like "Free Wind", albeit with a keyboardless heavier guitar/bass/drum trio approach. Lars ventures here into diverse musical soundscapes from the clean jazzy fills in "Earthbound" to the eastern influenced acoustic and sitar strains of "Delhi". From the emotional clean bent notes in "The Orchid" and "Later" to the light acoustic flamenco styling in "Song of the Woods". Heck, there is even evidence of funk influences in parts of "Closed Eyes". This diversity ultimately makes this a very interesting and never boring or redundant listen; perhaps the best single quality a guitar instrumental release can possess in this day and age.

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