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Satriani; Joe: Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards

Fresh from the phenomenal success that the supergroup Chickenfoot have found, Joe Satriani settles back into his "day-job" with the all instrumental and simply stunning album Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards. Much of the album was written while Joe was on tour with Sammy, Michael and Chad and with all those commitments, it is amazing that Satriani has managed to come up with an eclectic and hugely engaging set of songs that is immediately "Satch", but still more than a little different from what he has done before. In fact that is where the "black swans" part of the album title comes from with Joe using that metaphor to describe the "unlikely things" he has come up with this time, while the "wormhole wizards" part comes from the hope that one day we can use space wormholes to travel from place to place and time to time, which also describes the journey through the eleven songs on show here as well. The other noticeable difference with this album is that some new band members are on board, with Merman bassist Allen Whitman and keyboard master Mike Keneally joining up with Satch for the first time, while long time percussive collaborator Jeff Campitelli returns once more.

The album kicks off in stunning fashion, with "Premonition" setting the tone perfectly. The song fuses together a beautiful synth laden passage where Joe's fret-work dances over the atmospheric backing with a whopping great riff that grooves with a sense of purpose that is quite breath-taking. "Dream Song", as the title suggests is a more introspective piece that is the first opportunity for Keneally to really spar with Joe's fluid playing and the keyboard pattern that flits in and out of the muted solo, really reinforces the uplifting nature of the track. The sudden change of tack between the first two tracks really sets the tone for the album, with the gloriously regal guitar line of "Pyrrhic Victoria" being completely at odds with the gritty heavy rock of "Light Years Away", both however illustrate how Joe and the boys bring light and shade to every song, whether it is a full force rocker, or a restrained, thoughtful interlude. The lone guitar of "Solitude" is a short, beautiful piece dedicated to Joe's parents and that family theme continues on Satriani's bluesiest performance to date, "Littleworth Lane". It was written for Joe's mother who passed away last year. She introduced him to many various styles of music and this wonderful, almost Cajun style performance is a song she would be proud of.

The curve balls don't stop there with "The Golden Room" being reminiscent of the ethnically rhythmic strains of Kip Winger, before "Two Sides To Every Story" heads of in an easy going jazz direction. "Wormhole Wizards" sees Keneally once again sparring with Satriani's dextrous playing on this spacey, yet gently driving rock number, where Whitman holds everything together with a pulsating bass delivery. "Wind In The Trees" is a song that evokes the memory Joe had of watching leaves dance in the wind when he was a kid and if you close your eyes you really can imagine the leaves as they swoop and dive in the breeze. The guitar has been treated with autotune, to heighten the effect, while Keneally's piano playing is so good it actually steals the show. "God Is Crying" rounds the album off with Satch firing on all cylinders and on such an eclectic mix of an album this more familiar workout is a fitting end.

Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards really is Joe Satriani at his intricate interesting best, as he mixes explosive riffs, with some beautiful restrained moments and covers everything from blues to jazz, to foot to the floor rock.

If you only buy one guitar album this year, make it this one!


Track Listing
1. Premonition
2. Dream Song
3. Pyrrhic Victoria
4. Light Years Away
5. Solitude
6. Littleworth Lane
7. The Golden Room
8. Two Sides To Every Story
9. Wormhole Wizards
10. Wind In The Trees

Added: September 10th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Official Joe Satriani Web Site
Hits: 4041
Language: english

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