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Monday, August 3, 2015

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova review

Year : 2015
Genre : Instrumental Space Bubblegum Blues Rock
Label : Sony Entertainment Music
Origin : United States
Rating : 7.0 / 10

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Joe Satriani once again emerges to declare his virtually timeless commitment towards a very particular wavelength of music which sounds to consist of a doubtless mature command of introverted/contemplative blues rock, combined with an insatiable thirst for 1980's family friendly science fiction TV series ethos.

Truth be told, a portion of Satrani's portfolio reveals a forward-pointing picture of eloquent silence massacre, as whenever he chooses to experiment with orchestrating thrilling collisions between the potentials of largely electronic musical genres AND his particular brand of fretboard acrobatics, then the resultant stimulus always exhibits relevant amounts of evolutionary paths covered, ensuring undeniable novelty for this artist's credit, on which the top of Satriani manages to stay relevant - and even deservedly so.

From these points of evolution onward, - after ensuring the audience that he can deliver true creative novelty IF he chooses to, - Satriani presumably is self-assured to be safe to "finally" utilize his most favorite types of constraints, necessarily and steadily forming to be the quintessential-LY constrained Satriani: the introverted, somber, stoic plastic toy-rock action figure sci-fi blues guitar guy, giving you his family friendly space tourism pinball machine highscore table music, with the immediately recognizable "Satch Touch" all over it.

His song, "Surfing with the Alien" - from the '80s - seems to have cemented a portion of Satriani's soul in said era, when he was both young, fresh and undeniable, with Emperor Palpatine sparks of electricity running on his fingers when playing daguitta' in his video clips - the amount of cheesefest is unprecedented to this day, Ladies and Gents - and later on, the fact and realization of: "shit, time harvests all, my childhood included!", brought fourth a musical element in his material that was/is/probably will be responsible for that super-evident morose tint and introversion that reigns rampant/evident on 99% of his "conventional" releases.

By "conventional", I mean releases he writes from the heart, as opposed of writing from the heart, WHILE demanding a simultaneous evolution from it. Why write anything for a stagnant heart at all? So, demanding a playful and creative heart, would be the optimum. The virtually complete absence of latter optimum stance is something Satriani is highly suspect of, but how can you rightfully criticize him for this, as 1. as noted, he has superb amounts of novelty on other releases, and 2. Yngwie, anyone? Not as if an even more pronounced example at a stagnation could pose as any type of excuse for Satch's questionable willingness to sculpt out a hyper-optimized legacy, that which currently reeks self-repetition.

The music on a conventional Satriani disc is never bad nor sloppy enough to radically criticize its perpetrator for, yet never contains enough stylistic novelty to fuel the enthusiasm of a music snob worth calling one. Whether someone admires this type of family friendly Satch-Touch family space tourism bubblegum pinball machine rock or not, is a question to be addressed by the individual, yet, seeing how Satriani chose to deliver yet another full length on the exact same register, now it is practically safe to say that more will follow, hopefully adjacent to periodic releases of deliberate evolution and innovation.

Read on to know more, though there isn't much else to, not this time.

The "Shockwave Supernova" full length's mere title rides a relative hint of overcompensation, as rest assured, that there won't be shockwaves nor supernovas present in your vicinity when listening to this disk. They will be put to Cosmic Deepsleep, which is a BONUS! album title suggestion for Joe's PR team. Via (Satch read "Vai") this here disc, you will have your very secretive-, very particular craving of the "Satch Touch" - if any - quickly assuaged and, by the end, even utterly and excruciatingly satisfied.

The disc has a pretty abundant supply of carefully sculpted out melodies detailing easily accessible-, nevertheless relevant enough harmonic backdrops of largely blue color. Joe's considerable - but not outright mindfuckery-grade, see more on this below - talents at filling out a space with polite and articulate lines, remains stable.

As it always was, as is, and as it always will be. His playing and note choices though remain indicative of the countless hours and hours he probably been spending studying the deepest bowels of music theory even Cthulhu raises a brow at, and this is not something that serves Satriani's creative conduct particularly well. The note choices sometimes are indicative of how Satch seeks to masturbatively showcase the particular effect that an interval is supposed to bestow on your soul, as he is insisting at the effect, casting different lights on it. Sometimes you have a guitar lesson vibe from this release, and this is a no-no, in my opinion. Music theory is a fantastic thing. If I see it at work in your solo, then your solo is devoid of truly captured magic.

Much could be said about the release yet, but all those sentiments would fortify the mere fact of how this full length is a supra-orthodox Satriani outing, coming to you with all the limited-, though doubtless capacities to once again bestow upon your soul what this wavelength of bubblegum sci-fi blues rock has bestowed on it on numerous times before. "Play it again, Satch!"

Blues rock isn't the problem here: if there is a problem at all, then that problem is the result of how easily and how insatiably Satriani succumbs to pretentious, even arrogant, pseudo-contemplative introversion while delivering in this trademark style, which is hyper-optimized for the production of material, while omitting a large chunk of creativity, because it is "safer" to morosely blues around, what could go wrong?

The most sub-optimal percept that this entails, is something that you will find a lot of on this release: masturbatory space-filling - pun not intended I swea(r)(t) to all below and above god - is presented as content. I dare say that portions of this disc are not more - nor less - than Satch jamming/soloing around, finding and sharing his favorite scale modes for a given harmonic setting.

If I were a douché on a mission, then I would say that Satriani's top form is better than this Satriani album. But it's not a bad Satriani album by any stretch of the imagination - it's only that there isn't too much on it of the latter. Namely: imagination. It has LOADS of Satriani on it, though. But it is not to say that imagination is completely absent: the moody harmonic structures are sculpted out with scientific care and love, and their organic nature guarantees a whole to immerse a pair of ears or more into. It's just that it not much happening when the harmonies open up, so Satch can morose around.

Rating : 7.0 / 10

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