Lubera; Bill: Global Warning
Although he is a veteran of the Chicago rock scene, Global Warning is the debut release from guitar virtuoso Bill Lubera, who first picked up his instrument of choice at aged five. What really made me sit up and take notice though is the involvement in this project of a certain George Bellas, who has tutored Lubera for many years. Bellas has released many excellent instrumental albums through Lion Records as well as playing in Mogg/Way (basically UFO under a different name), Ring Of Fire and with Vitalij Kuprij, among others and he "guides" and produces Lubera on this album as well as contributing some instrumentation.
Broken up into ten tracks, there's no prizes for guessing the theme of the songs on an album named Global Warning, with Lubera taking us through instrumental songs that illustrate different extreme weather conditions. Employing, on the whole, a neo-progressive style to get his point across, I'm pleased to say that the whole album is not an excuse for the stereotypical "guess how many notes I can play" style of guitar instrumental album, although Lubera does treat us to some jaw dropping fiery fret fancies of the highest order. That said this disc is as much about creating atmospheres and emotions that illustrate the concept behind the music, with the well thought through use of keyboards adding weight to the impressive guitar work. I can't say that the music always represents what I would expect from songs called "Hurricane" or "Earthquake", but I suppose that is all subjective and in truth a bit picky when the results are hugely enjoyable.
Bellas has created a rich sounding album that really gives Lubera the space to stretch out, while never leaving him isolated from the rest of the music. My only complaint would be the cymbal sounds which dominate much of what goes on at times and in certain songs a constant "wash" proves to be quite a distraction. That however is a minor quibble and on the whole the sole focal point is the guitar work which ranges from the restrained, angular slow build of "Hurricane", the million miles a minute of "Blizzard" and the classically inspired "Tornado". If you are a devotee of blazing fret work from a truly top class player, then I would happily add an extra star to the rating for this album, as there can be no question that Bill Lubera is a master of the art. For those who need a more song based album, then there is still much to really get your teeth into, due to the strength of the compositions that the guitar playing is based round.
Some guitar albums are impressive to listen to, but not something you would really return to often, however with Global Warning Bill Lubera has managed to create something that will resonate with music lovers in general and that in itself is rather impressive.
10. Silver Lining
Added: November 11th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Bill Lubera Official Site
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|Lubera; Bill: Global Warning
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-11-11 10:26:36
What do you get when teacher and student get together to a make an album? An instrumental concept album of course.
Bill Lubera has been playing guitar for a long time (started at the age of five) and has been a student of multi-instrumentalist George Bellas so it only made sense the two would make an album together and a good one it is.
Global Warning is Lubera's first album and judging from the sound of it there will hopefully be many more to come. Most instrumental albums are not tied to a concept but Global Warning is built upon extreme weather events, a relevant topic indeed.
Lubera is an outstanding guitarist and his craftsmanship is on full display. His leads, whether fast or slow, bordering on neo-classical shredding or revealing a more leisurely pace, are always tasteful and melodic. This album is not about a 'see how fast I can play mentality', no, it is more than that. It is all about strong songwriting, something which can be lost with instrumental guitar albums especially ones where tempo changes and musical change ups are prevalent.
The album opens with "Blizzard", a solid, heavier piece with fiery solos and more languid guitar parts. The guitar playing is relentless and the layers of guitar add that much more texture to the sound.
"Earthquake" starts with a whimsical keyboard intro, a sort of medieval/circus melody before the guitar joins the fray making for a lush and melodic soundscape augmented with crisp and dramatic rhythmic flourishes and superb string bending from Lubera.
In the keyboard heavy "Firestorm" softer moments turn into intense riffage and Eastern tinged soloing and in "Icebergs" keyboards are again an integral component adding a symphonic backdrop upon which Lubera lays down chugging riffs and melodic fretwork.
The album ends with the short and classically influenced "Silver Lining", an all keyboard excursion that I only wish was a little longer.
With Global Warning Lubera has created an excellent album that should appeal to both musicians and non-musicians and shows that technically superb playing and melody go hand in hand.
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