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JOE SATRIANI Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock Sony BMG (2008)

Joe Satriani

Where do you go after you've just celebrating 20 years since the groundbreaking 'Surfing with the Alien' album? Were it anyone else other than Joe Satriani they would probably be struggling, but if nothing else 'Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock' is a work bursting with fresh ideas, real energy and naturally enough supreme playing.

Joe has teamed up with his long time studio engineer John Cuniberti to explore 'The Musterion' or 'Mystery of Rock', and in the hands of this capable duo the music flourishes. It may be a technical given that instrumental rock can only flourish with the judicious use of dynamics, a deft balance of light and shade that extends as much to song structure as it does to tone colouration. But where Joe Satriani is light years ahead of many of his contemporaries is that his solos have that magical ability to convey a range of meanings, emotions and all those elements of that can still make rock so essential.

There are moments of true frisson as on the magnificent rock jam work out of the album's best track 'Asik Vaysel' - named and dedicated to the Turkish stringed instrument player - and also on 'Revelation' on which some long luscious lines and a classic guitar break convey all aspects of the songs title.

There are further strong melodic elements and thematic developments as on 'Overdriven' and some impressive note clusters on 'Come On Baby', a song which you sense Pat Metheny would love to have written. And for out and out rock fans there are burst of scintillating shredding on 'Overdriven' and breathtaking band interplay as on the magnificent closing 'Andalusia'. This track not only provides the perfect finale for a great album but also acts as a counter balance for some of the technically brilliant music that has gone before.

'Andalusia' sounds like the band have finally been let lose to jam on a groove and the transition from Spanish guitar and repeated castanets to full blown rock workout is truly inspirational.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about this album is the way the various elements contribute to a coherent whole. Thus while Joe references Jeff Beck on the funky title track and manages to turn the plodding robotic chorus of 'I Just Want to Rock' into a wondrous note blizzard finale, each individual piece has an uplifting feel about it that carries the listener to the next part of the album.

This is no better evidenced than on 'Revelation' whose grungy intro somehow becomes transformed into a melodic Wishbone Ash style twin guitar classic rock piece. While there may be a handful of guitarists who are technically Joe's equal, and who he has cleverly embraced as part of his G3 series of tours, few have the creative levels, the vision and in truth the drive to transform their ideas and ability into an album as good as this.

A real triumph then and a contender for one of the albums of the year.


Review by Pete Feenstra

GRTR! Recommended

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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