Guitar virtuosos may finally be wising up. Any hack with a six-string can masturbate all over a CD filled with faster-than-thou fretwork that lacks imagination and demands a strong-willed listener. But it takes real talent to craft an instrumental guitar album that treats each song with the respect it deserves. Enter 39-year-old James Dallas Caterine – veteran of such rock and metal bands as Sacred Rite, Tragic Nancy and Time Machine, and a guitarist who's also adept at playing bass, drums and piano.
The 11 tracks (plus one bonus cut) on Caterine's first solo album, Cognition, embrace lush orchestral arrangements, defer to acoustic delicacy and revel in melodic nirvana. When you don't even notice that music has no lyrics, you know you're spinning an exceptional instrumental album, and Cognition is a perfect example. Divided into three sections – Rebirth, Soul Discovery and Cognition – the album seems to follow some sort of concept, perhaps a personal theme that chronicles Caterine's own life. Just read the liner notes for insight into what may have been going through the multi-instrumentalist's head when he was laying down tracks with such titles as "Search for Solace," "Tears," Segue to the Heart," "Enlighten" and "Shades of Life": "Cognition was recorded in the bedroom, garage, living room & bathroom of my former home in Las Vegas, NV, and mastered in Phoenix, AZ, between jobs, bands, paralysis, addictions, nervous breakdowns, car wrecks & major eye surgery."
A bizarre fact related to the above statement: Caterine was involved in car accident in April 2001. After several surgeries, he remains blind in his left eye – which is the image on the cover of Cognition. The cover concept and title, however, were actually conceived almost two years earlier, which further fuels the argument that Caterine's fluid sense of melody and exceptional flair for aural details border on the miraculous. Cheers, good fellow.