Music Theories Recordings [Release date 21.01.14]
Instrumental guitar albums are a “difficult” genre to do well. At GRTR! Towers we are subjected to all manner of offerings; most are over-indulgent, unoriginal and badly produced. Bruce Bouillet may hold more of a claim to our attention by virtue of his LA session work and his earlier tenancy in Racer X with Paul Gilbert.
But it seems that, unlike Gilbert, Bouillet has – since the late-eighties – kept a lower profile busying himself as a recording engineer and producer. He still found time to tour with G3 in 2007 (in Gilbert’s band and within earshot of Satriani and John Petrucci) and with John Payne’s Asia. ‘The Order Of Control’ is in some ways his step back to the instrumental guitar genre that he’s always been part of and this is his third solo album.
As might be expected the first two tracks are bombastic chunks of fret-melt, with Eastern phrasing. But to be honest, by the time we get to ‘Seeing Through’ if you’re not already on the ropes you might be thinking “where the hell did I put that Satriani album?”.
Does Bouillet tick the boxes? Well it’s indulgent, but well-played and executed, and certainly well produced. But original? The Ghost of Satch and the Spirit of Gilbert very much prevails.
When Bouillet does slow things down, as on ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ and ‘Akiko’ the results are pleasing. (The long silence at the end of this last track seems to be a mastering error rather than revealing an easter egg and will b—r up automated radio schedules).
Overall, in spite of the bombast and the bravado there is really a lack of killer riffs and melodies. The short ‘A Grand Reversal’ sounds like the end-piece of a song rather than a song. There’s a lack of space to allow the music to breathe and inevitably there’s a sense of inveterate jamming/shredding rather than an over-refined song structure.
This might suit some listeners but the cumulative effect for the non-believer is that it gets very tiring. Bouillet should be credited, though, for the lack of a real curveball. There’s no country picking on this guitar tour de force or anything remotely insipid, so that other guitar instrumental box marked “mandatory weird stuff” remains unchecked. ***1/2
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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