West Audio production [Release date 05.04.13]
Norwegian guitarist Roger Pederson is a jaw dropping technician who solo’s at breathtaking speed. He frequently applies a two handed tapping technique to some impossible shreds, while exploring scintillating dynamics and a multitude of tones. At times he just seems to take off like an out of control helicopter, but then he always manages to restore order with an uplifting phrase or a unison guitar break.
He achieves some incredible outer worldly sounds over the course of a dozen tracks, plus a vocal from Johannes Stole on the radio edit of ‘Say My Name’. And yet some of most pleasurable moments on the album, such as the flighty melody line and crying tone of
‘The PingPongSong’, almost lose their impact because he overloads the solos and doesn’t let them breathe. In broader terms, we also live in a world full of so many sampled sounds that his stunning contribution is in danger of being lost in the shuffle.
Roger counterbalances intensity with an understated sense of humour which frequently pops up in his evocative song titles. Instrumental rock music sometimes stumbles over the final hurdle of finding a suitable song title, but Pederson’s song titles reflect the pace and density of his music. Thus on ‘Hail In A Hurricane’, the intensity of his frenetic playing and accompanying keyboard stabs sound like a wasp in a jam jar. Two songs later he actually calls a song ‘Wasps’, while other titles such as ‘Circus’, ‘ThePingPongSong’, ‘Melody’ and ‘GuitarDrumBizarreThing’ tell their own story.
‘Circus’ opens with incredible swirls of descending notes that suggest frenetic activity. It’s a style and that populates most of the underbelly of an album that bursts at the seams as it pushes the boundaries of guitar mangling to the edge. He reprises a similar feel on the accurately titled ‘More Is More’, as his spiralling shreds evoke a merry-go-round. For the most part Roger’s scintillating chops don’t so much weave their way into the fabric of composition as push them along in big tidal waves.
On ‘Anti Virus’, his guitar sounds like a harp and he frequently juxtaposes moments of intense shredding with sweeping unison guitar breaks that make the melody line of ‘The Ping PongSong’ and the self explanatory ‘Melody’ all the more effective.
There’s a strong metal tinged, rhythmic attack on ‘Surfing With An Umbrella’. The title possibly alludes to the influence of Satriani’s ‘Surfing With The Alien’ and certainly has the same angular guitar lines and tones.
There are some moments of light and shade in between the relentless avalanche of notes, most obviously on the meditative ‘Northern Lights’, which is a surprisingly delicate acoustically voiced duet. There’s also the welcome restraint of the mid tempo ‘Summerday’, which focuses on single ringing notes and a lingering melody.
But you can’t keep a busy shredder down for long, as Roger applies some visceral double tapping to produce a cascade of notes on ‘Popcorn Anyone?’ And while the album surprisingly finishes on a boy band pop song – heavy on the harmonies and bv’s – there’s the little matter of the technically brilliant ‘GuitarDrumBizarreThing’, which sounds like a spontaneous drum and guitar interplay. The drums are played at a canter as Roger applies some incredible twist and turns and whammy bar mangling.
To the untutored ear, guitar shredding can lose its appeal long before the half way mark of an album like this. But if you give the music the attention it deserves, there are sparkling little cameos to be unearthed, dynamic resolutions to be enjoyed and uplifting melodies to sooth the soul, all intricately wrapped up by the astonishing technique of Norway’s king of the shredders. *** (3/5)
Review by Pete Feenstra
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