CD Review: Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards, By Joe Satriani
This is my review of the most recent solo CD by guitar legend Joe Satriani!
Another Astounding Accomplishment By The Great Joe Satriani
Ever since I first heard his music in my early teens, I have been completely in awe of the genius that is Joe Satriani. I buy every album on the day of its release, and have had the unforgettable experience of seeing him perform live many times. His gargantuan talents have not only earned him tons of well-deserved praise, but have also assured him a place in rock history as one of the most influential guitarists to ever grace this planet; he truly is the best of the best. He's the type of guitar player whose talent can easily leave you wondering how any mere mortal could come to be in possession of such a monumental level of musical brilliance; and he does it all without even breaking a sweat!
Being a guitar player myself, and having at least some understanding of what is required to do what he does, I can't help but admire and respect his work. In fact...and I hate to admit this...I have to say that I also listen to him with the slightest tinge of jealousy! I love his music, but after hearing him, I came close to giving up the guitar myself, because he really showed me how the instrument should be played. Thankfully, I still play, and I am proud of my own talents, although my skills are certainly no match for the likes of him. I can say with absolute certainty that when Joe arrived on the scene, there were many closet guitarists out there who were not happy. He really sent us all back to the woodshed with an urgent need to practice, practice, practice!
With the release of his thirteenth studio album, the uniquely titled Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards, Joe delivers yet another instrumental opus that is sure to please longtime fans. As usual, the guitar work is interesting, energetic and fun. The production quality is top notch, and the arrangements are tight and logical. This album is also unique in that it is the first to utilize keyboards, played by Mike Keneally! For me, the standout tracks here are Pyrrhic Victoria, Light Years Away, and the final track, God is Crying.
However, I do have one complaint about this record. While the music here is good and I did enjoy the album, I felt that Joe played it safe on this record. In the past, he has always managed to top his previous efforts and break new ground. On this record, he rarely ventures too far out of his comfort zone. The usual level of quality is there, but if you have all of his previous albums and have followed his career, then you will find nothing that is really new and different.
One of the things that I always loved about Joe's music is that you could expect the unexpected. Just when you thought that he couldn't possibly get any better, he would reach into his endless bag of tricks and pull out something so utterly dazzling that you would have to pause the CD to retrieve your jaw from the floor! Unfortunately, I never had that reaction when listening to this album. As good as this CD is, it is pretty much textbook stuff for Joe. That was a little disappointing for me, but not enough to keep me from liking the music.
In conclusion, I'd just like to say that I would definitely recommend the album. It is a worthy addition to Joe's impressive catalog,and one that is enjoyable and definitely worth spending the money on. It will certainly entertain you, even though it lacks that element of surprise that has been present on other releases. However, if you are new to Joe's music, I would start off with one of his earlier CDs like Surfing With The Alien or Flying In A Blue Dream before you listen to this one!