Reviewed by MJBrady on 05 Mar 2005
After a somewhat long absence from recording studio cds, venerable virtuoso guitarist - Steve Vai returns with this 2005 release of what he does best. Mostly instrumental songs that will surprise your aural senses with sounds never heard, and many you have. And yet another cd that will send many a wannabee young inspired guitarists to their instrument of choice in a feeble attempt to recreate the magic that is Vai.
Vai's music really defies the typecasts that are associated with many of the cookie cutter impresarios in guitarland. And he manages to re-invent himself, even while he usually sounds like he always does. Perhaps it was he tenure as a Zappa alum that makes his approach to shredding unique, because with Vai, it's more about sounds, tones and twisted experiments in scales and modes, than it is about speed and precision wankery, that stuff is far too easy for him.
While I'd personally like to hear Steve Vai doing far more progressive writing, in the tradition of Zappa, he seems to enjoy his niche with the guitar-hero crowd enough to keep a lot of music in the big-hair, retro/metal crowd. Yet his imagination does run a little astray on this cd, he does some singing, even more than on past efforts, and even included the Seawind horn section. Now for him, that's going outside the norm.
Due to Vai's musical past, he is an icon on two sides of the genre tagging coin, with his time in Zappa he has captivated fans of progressive and fusion music. And with Whitesnake/David Lee Roth, etc. he also has roots in the metal community, each would embrace him as their own. He somehow manages to appeal to both sides on this cd, and dare I say, he really stepped up the technical brilliance of his compositions on this cd. I noticed that he employs drummer - Jeremy Colson, who played on the outstanding Dali's Dilemma cd, and I am glad to hear him playing music that allows him to show his stuff. Other guests of note are bassists - Billy Sheehan, Bryan Bellar, and a host of others. Vai is back, and this cd while not completely inventive, does show Steve taking more adventurous explorations to what many of his fans want to hear, his composition genius, we already have enough evidence of his guitar abilities on past cds, now he is melding the two, and the results are just what one might expect.