I’m pretty shit at twitter. Facebook too. I’m getting a little better lately though – coupla fairly major followers in Queens Of The Stone Age (score!) and Tesseract (scored again!) . So it aint all bad. And like I say things have been picking up lately. It’s odd because I don’t really know why? You post the same kinda shit every day and suddenly you have a load of new followers. And not just the ones that quote that inspirational shit. What is it with those? I mean it’s nice and all that but fuck me, they’re everywhere! No, lately I’ve had quite a few new and not so new artists follow me. It’s wicked! I got all this stuff to listen to from bands I would probably have never heard of, or at least not until they’d achieved some kind of success. I love seeking out new music and now it is coming to me! So I wanna tell you about some of it but where to start? I should probably do it in order of ‘follows’, but no actually I’m gonna do it by genre, or more to the truth it’ll be however I feel on any given day, so here goes.
I’m gonna start with a couple of PROGRESSIVE SOLO GUITARISTS. Ok, so a guy that followed me right when I started tweeting was a fella called Matt Stevens. Part of a band, The Fierce And The Dead, Matt is also an esteemed solo artist. Hailing from North London (my old neck of the woods) Matt has been described as a ‘one man guitar orchestra’. His latest record, ‘Lucid’ is just out and is a meticulously crafted piece of work. The record has everything a great record (in my eyes) always seems to have – from the hard driving opener of ‘Oxymoron‘ that instantly grabs your attention, to the delicate Crimson-esque fret play of the second track ‘Flow’. In those first two tracks you instantly have a taste of the variety and skill displayed here. And it goes on throughout the entire record. Dipping and soaring from track to track, it is a bit like that famous box of chocolates, you don’t quite know what’ll come next but it’s fine cos you love everything in the box! The final track ‘A Boy’ is a particular favourite of mine but I am a sucker for a well played acoustic – something Matt is renowned for, and likewise ‘The Bridge’, a 12 minute opus that encompasses the various qualities of the entire album, and there are many of them, all in one track!! Lucid is such a well thought out, considered piece of music. You know, I am a huge ZAPPA fan and dotted throughout this record I hear little flashes of the late, great moustachioed one, especially on the slower, more acoustic tracks. They are subtle, but they are there. And Matt’s whole approach to me feels a little Zappa-esque. Everything is very deliberate, there is nothing on the record that has no value in being there. It’s extremely impressive. So really to summarise, if you like progressive guitar music where melody and intricacy abound, where variety is equal to the quality of musicianship, Matt Stevens’ – ‘Lucid’ is an absolute joy!
Matt Stevens – Lucid
By way of some contrast the next artist I want to mention is Alek Darson. Where Matt Stevens subtly caresses and cajoles you into his sonic world of creative mastery, Alek Darson slaps you right around the face from the off and says ‘Oi, look what I got!’ I remember a time when guys that played like this were lauded by the industry. Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and the like were gods of their time when they were putting out records like ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’ and ‘Passion and Warfare’. My brother, an aspiring guitarist back in the day, along with every other wannabe axemeister would hang on every note these guys played, would spend thousands buying the replica Ibanez guitars and would practice morning, noon and night until his fingers bled just to be able to play ‘For The Love of God‘ or ‘Cool #9‘. It’s probably more about me being a little out of touch with this particular style of music now than anything else, but if the virtuoso progressive guitarist is still in vogue, then Alek Darson needs to be at the very top of the ‘I wanna play like him’ list. His EP, ‘Panopticon‘ is a bombastic shredfest of humongous proportion. Exploding open with the first track ‘Sprockets‘ he really doesn’t let off until the final note of the final song, which rather teasingly you have to find yourself hidden within his website. It’s not too hard to find and it’s kinda fun. To me it speaks of the guy’s personality which is also reflected in every one of his tracks. The entire EP is a great piece of music, loaded with incredible guitar playing, and with hints of everybody you ever loved with a six string from Satch, to Jeff Beck to Vai. If you love those guys, you are gonna love Alek, it’s as simple as that. From Belgrade to Berklee College Boston, I suspect Alek’s journey has only really just begun.
Alek Darson – Spiral Of Sanity