Electric Sea Won't Cause a Storm
- Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Title: Electric Sea
Guitar virtuoso and visual spectacle Buckethead was somewhat of a punch line to the uninformed when he joined Guns N' Roses for several years in the early 2000s. Of course, aligning with the world's most volatile band and always wearing a KFC bucket on your head plus a creepily expressionless costume mask on your face in concert does invite some reaction.
What a lot of people didn't know was that the musician originally known as Brian Carroll was already a respected instrumentalist in his own right, having performed dozens of guest spots on other artists' records playing every style from metal and funk to jazz, ambient, and bluegrass.
His personal discography is just as remarkable and varied: 2012's Electric Sea, a sequel to 2002's Electric Tears, is the thirty-fifth Buckethead studio album, a dynamic guitar-only project steeped in mostly soothing, sometimes lively New Age, classical, and cinematic influences.
The title cut and "Yokohama" are built on simple acoustic chord patterns with melodious electric soloing, the former especially emotive and the latter more mild and meandering. Unplugged guitars also define the intense, cascade-like "Beyond the Knowing" and particularly meditative "Gateless Gate." Either would sound at home on an early Windham Hill label release from William Ackerman or Michael Hedges.
Buckethead is far more animated on "Point Doom," where he blends surf rock sensibility with impressive Spanish plucking, and "El Indio," an obvious Spaghetti Western homage. A trio of classical interpretations is also cool. "La Wally" is a deeply creative reproduction of the Alfred Catalani operatic piece on six strings. "La Gavotte" and "Bachethead" are sprightly takes on Johann Sebastian Bach, their intricate, spiraling melodies well suited to Buckethead's dexterity.
Album closer "The Homing Beacon" is said to be a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, and the track's mellow pace, with music box and harp-like essences, does come across as elegiac.
Despite the Axl Rose and King of Pop connections, Electric Sea won't likely storm the charts. But to hear it is a more pleasant experience than one might expect. Guitar students and those who like to find compelling background music for work or winding down at home might like it most.
*This review first published 2/29/2012
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