Nov 232010

We can be mellow. It’s true! After all, I spent a lot of my vacation staring at clouds, and I wasn’t even high. That’s mellow, isn’t it? Plus, we get really mellow when we’re asleep (except when we’re thrashing around in a fever dream because we can’t get the latest Deathspell Omega album out of our heads).

Okay, to be brutally honest, here at NCS we don’t get mellow with our music very often. We prefer music that’s . . . whatever the opposite of “mellow” is. Wait a minute, let me look that up.

Okay, I looked it up, and the dictionary says the antonym of mellow is “harsh”. That’s the kind of music we prefer here at NCS — harsh music. Loud, harsh music — the kind that makes your hair stand straight up and causes the cat to spontaneously evacuate its bowels. Actually, we don’t like it when the cat does that, and I’m sure he doesn’t like it much either, which is why I usually listen to music through my earbuds, but you know what I’m talking about, right? Music that’s not safe for pets. Or small children. That’s what NCS is about, usually.

But every now and then, once in a blue moon, we stumble into mellowness, usually without meaning to. This morning was one of those times. We thought about just enjoying the brief mellowness phase and not sharing it with you, because we know most of you don’t come here to be dosed with mellow. But then we thought, maybe NCS readers get mellow every now and then, too. It could happen. It’s not likely, but it could. So, we’re sharing.

But to clear up any confusion, mellowness is a relative concept, and what we have for you is only relatively mellow — and it does feature the kind of wizardry that Harry Potter only dreams of, in this case, some genuine, no-bullshit, hot-off-the-presses guitar wizardry from Joe Satriani, and something older but very cool from Buckethead.  (after the jump . . .)

JOE SATRIANI

I suppose that everyone who’s been a serious fan of metal or rock for more than a handful of years knows who Joe Satriani is. But if you don’t, he’s a guitar god who has taught and influenced several generations of rock and metal guitarists, in addition to being a successful recording artist himself, both with bands and as a solo performer. He’s been nominated for 15 Grammy awards, and he’s currently a member of the super-group Chickenfoot. On October 5, he released his 14th studio album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards.

Years have passed since the last time I listened to a Satriani release, mainly because I got so deeply into extreme metal and now rarely venture outside that territory. But now I’m reminded why I used to love his music so fucking much — and the reminder came in the form of an official video, released less than a week ago, for the first single from Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. The song is called “Light Years Away”. The video was directed and edited by Jon Luini and Arthur Rosato, and shot by Luini, Chris Sentovich, and Boris Karpman.

It’s Satriani and his backing musicians playing the song, with some video effects that work really well. The song is just a gift of awesomeness.

Satriani’s web site is at this location.

BUCKETHEAD

This next item came our way via a recent comment on one of our posts from almost five months ago, courtesy of “Kebabhasse”, one of the contributors to Death Metal Baboon. He provided a link to a song by Buckethead. Here’s how that happened:

In early July we posted a teaser about the then-forthcoming album Too Many Humans by Montreal’s The Last Felony. We had a little exchange about overpopulation in the Comments section after that post (yes, our comments do tend to veer off in interesting directions). Our bro Aaron opined: “Hell, the only reason some people are alive is because it is illegal to kill them . . .” To which I responded, “That’s why we have to listen to music that kills . . .” To which Kebabhasse provided a link to a Buckethead song, also called “Too Many Humans”, and explained: “This isn´t music that kills but rather heals.”

I’d been hearing about Buckethead’s solo releases for years, but never bothered to see what all the fuss was about, because, based on what I’d read, it didn’t sound like my kind of metal (or maybe even metal at all). Yeah, I’ve made that kind of mistake before, e.g., by not listening to the likes of Cloudkicker, Dan DankmeyerTre Watson, or Drewsif Stalin until relatively recently. But Kebabhasse’s comment lured me into listening to that Buckethead song, and wow — another great discovery, and one that demonstrates yet again that I’ve been too close-minded.

For those who are ignorant like me (well, no one else is really that ignorant), Buckethead is the stage name for guitar virtuoso Brian Carroll, who performs with a bucket on his head and a white mask. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, he has released 29 studio albums, 4 special releases, and an EP, and has performed on over 50 more albums by other artists. He was the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses from 2000 to 2004 and played with the band on the massively delayed Chinese Democracy album.

In his Buckethead persona, he has recorded several albums with keyboardist Travis Dickerson, one of them being a tour-only album called Island of Lost Minds, later re-released in 2004 for wider distribution as Population Override. That’s the album that includes the song to which Kebabhasse pointed us in his post comment.

So, with that too-lengthy preface behind us, here is Buckethead (and Dickerson) performing “Too Many Humans”, from the album Population Override: It’s bluesy, jazzy, ethereal, and about halfway through it begins to ramp up and rock out. An altogether awesome tune. Hope you like it!

15 Responses to “GUITAR WIZARDRY (PROOF THAT WE CAN BE MELLOW, ONCE IN A BLUE MOON)”

  1. Aaron says:

    Hahaha I remember that comment now! Beauty times boys, I’ll drink to that (I’ll drink to almost anything though…)

    And I love rock! It’s what created metal! My dad got me started on Satriani when I was a youngin’, aswell as SRV, Hendrix, Van halen, ect. Fucking love it!

    I just wish my music class (Advanced university music, although I am still in highschool) Would play more rock. Lately, all we’ve played is jazz…

    Just remember fella’s, one mistake in a song, and it’s still music. Two or more, and it’s considered jazz.

    • Islander says:

      “Just remember fella’s, one mistake in a song, and it’s still music. Two or more, and it’s considered jazz.” LMFAO.

      • Aaron says:

        Yeah, my music class liked that one after I yelled it at my teacher. Jazz can piss me off. I get tired of playing the same shit shuffle over and over for 180 some odd bars of 4/4 timing. Yeah, I’m a drummer.

  2. The Artist Formerly Known as Dan says:

    Glad to see the virtuosos up on here. I’m a huge fan of Satriani, even though I was pretty underwhelmed by Chickenfoot. Regardless, I feel like we can’t talk about him and not bring up Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert. Those three dudes have done amazing things for the guitar. Marty Friedman has done some great things too (and it’s my opinion that leaving Megadeth was the best possible thing he could have done as a musician, though that experience still did contribute to his development overall). I could go on an on about these dudes, but I’ll stop since it might not be of interest to everyone here. One last thought – to the other guitar players: I purposely didn’t bring up Yngwie Malmsteen – amazing guitarist, but just not a personal favorite.

    • Islander says:

      Vai and Gilbert were two people I had in mind in referring to Satriani’s work with other guitarists, and I’m glad you mentioned them. They’re amazingly good. And going back in the other direction, we also ought to mention Allan Holdsworth and Jeff Beck, who Satriani has cited as important influences on his own playing. Yngwie? I’m not a fan either.

      • ElvisShotJFK says:

        Yngwie is good, but it’s when he’s actually writing and playing songs instead of showing off or running his mouth about how good he is that his material is listenable. That’s how it goes with any neo-classical performer. Technical skill is impressive, but that doesn’t always include a decent song at the same time.

        Along with the guys already mentioned, I think I should add Jeff Young to the mix. He may not have been well suited as a metal guitarist during his time with Megadeth, but the guy is impressive with any kind of guitar in his hands.

        Another guitar god that sometimes gets overlooked is George Lynch. He has as style that few can match and were it not for timing, he could’ve been the standard for guitarists instead of Eddie Van Halen. Were it not for Randy Rhodes, he would’ve been playing for Ozzy. Then again, Gene Simmons left a concert after Van Halen’s set (they were the openers) and missed Lynch’s time on stage later that night; that could have changed the landscape if both guitarists had been seen by Gene.

        But for the original guitar heroes, look no further than Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Each impressive, but together they could work magic. And that’s not including everything else Les Paul contributed to music besides a better electric guitar (which he might not have had a hand in actually designing, I haven’t seen anything that says without doubt that he helped make it).

        We could go on for a long time with names to add to the list of guitar greats, either by skill, songwriting or influence – and such a list would likely be longer than the list of others combined.

  3. Niek says:

    I love Satch! My dad and I together have about 150% of all his albums. Also saw him live twice. At the last one, my brother got a drum stick from the guy’s drummer (Jeff Campitelli) and I got my hands on one of Satch’s picks.

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