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Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards
Guitar ace back on track
Jackie Hayden, 17 Nov 2010
Satriani is one of the most provocative axe-wielders around, a fretboard wizard whose skills are invariably harnessed to serve the music rather than merely showing off (although he can do that too!). His 14th studio album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, combines the advantages of modern recording with the immediacy of a live concert, thus harking back towards 1992’s The Extremist.
Opener ‘Premonition’ is replete with vintage fret-melting Satriani turns and phrases, while the psychedelically-hued ‘Dream Song’ mixes wah-wahed and richly-textured melodic guitar with a bubbling keyboard. There’s a heads-down crunchiness to ‘Pyrrhic Victoria’, with its nagging ZZ Top rhythmic undercurrent, but with ‘Light Years Away’ the album really takes flight and subtlety takes a back seat. ‘The Golden Room’ comes spiced with tabla-style percussion, exotic Eastern melodies and widescreen keyboards creating a deliciously hypnotic track. Those keyboards herald ‘Wormhole Wizards’ with piledriving bass, restrained guitars and a dashing keyboard solo by Mike Keneally. ‘Wind In The Trees’ is reminiscent of ‘Rubina’ from Joe’s first album, and a ballad that deftly uses distortion, although ‘Littlewood Lane’ seems like a Claptonesque throwaway.
Apart from Satriani and Keneally, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards features drummer Jeff Camitelli and Allen Whitman (Mermen) on bass. While Satriani’s work might be best appreciated by guitarists, rest assured that snowboarders, bikers and plain old fans of exciting, unpretentious music will get it too.
KEY TRACK: ‘LIGHT YEARS AWAY'