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Joe Satriani – Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards: Review

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

On October 5, the guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani released his latest album, entitled Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. After his previous album, which many saw as a disappointment, Satch seemed to veer his approach slightly. Though nothing drastic, this release does present Joe Satch with a renewed feel.

 The Music (rating: B)

  1. Premonition
  2. Dream Song
  3. Pyrrhic Victoria
  4. Light Years Away
  5. Solitude
  6. Littleworth Lane
  7. The Golden Room
  8. Two Sides to Every Story
  9. Wormhole Wizards
  10. Wind in the Trees
  11. God is Crying

The album is unmistakable as a Joe Satriani album. Such aspects as the guitar tone and his melodic phrasing are remnant of his signature style. Like his former albums, the focus is primarily on the guitar. However, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards gives more leeway to supporting instruments (particularly the keyboards). That being said, this is without doubt a guitar virtuoso album.

With the addition of a keyboardist to the lineup, the music tends to emphasize atmosphere over melody.  Though this aspect in particular is not an issue, there are problems with the lead guitar. Satch seemed to give too much room for the overall ambiance and did not produce the exceptional leads that had originally made his music so standout. If the background instruments had a bigger contribution to giving a fuller rhythmic feel, this may not have been an issue. But the music generally feels to be slightly void of essence both in the foreground and the background.

Also, the guitar solos were rather stale for Satriani’s standards. On Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, none of them are too technically impressive nor emotionally grasping, which is what made Satriani (and many guitar players for that matter) so appreciable. Now that is not to say that the guitar work is bad (or even close to it), but simply that for Joe Satriani, it is a disappointment. Unfortunately, the supporting band members could not be expected to compensate for the guitar virtuoso’s shortcomings.

Despite all the negativity I have portrayed towards Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, I do think it is a good album. It is an enjoyable listen and the keyboards added a fresh scent to a firmly established artist, but the album is rather forgettable. There are many Satriani albums that are definitively better than this, but there are also some that are definitively worse. This one ranks somewhere in the middle, whether that be good or bad. But unlike the artist, this album is not significant.

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