Joe Satriani Shockwave Supernova review

Joe Satriani releases his latest masterpiece Shockwave Supernova on Friday the 24th of July which is his fifteenth solo release and the follow up to 2013's Unstoppable Momentum cd.

Recorded late last year at Skywalker Sound in Lucas Valley, CA, and backed by a world class rhythm section comprising two-thirds of The AristocratsBryan Beller on bass guitar, and Marco Minnemann on drums who backed Joe on the Unstoppable Momentum world tour.Longtime collaborators, keyboardist Mike Keneally and engineer / co producer John Cuniberti both continue their relationships with Joe with John their shared history dates back to the guitar star’s 1986 debut album, Not Of This Earth and its follow-up, the platinum-selling, critically acclaimed,Surfing with the Alien.

Their are also guest musicians in the shape of Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction, Rob Zombie) on bass guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting) on drums who add accent and flair to four tracks: “Keep On Movin’”, “In My Pocket”, “Crazy Joey”, and “Scarborough Stomp”.

Over the course of 15 tracks and 65 minutes Joe takes you on a journey through his mind and his alter ego "Shockwave Supernova," the outlandish and extroverted ‘performance side’ of the normally shy and reserved guitar virtuoso.

Joe explores every facet of music be it rock,blues,jazz and funk and all wrapped up in a superb production that has the guitar as lead vocalist but still lets the musical textures from all the world class musicians be heard and making an all encompassing musical landscape that over repeated plays lodges itself in your brain.

Every play reveals another layer of guitar,a new guitar lick or melody line,a superb drum fill or change in drum pattern that then sets the rest of the band of into another level with keys and bass all playing their part.

Shockwave Supernova starts with the title track that has a rocky stomp at it's heart with Minnemann straight into a head on groove with Beller's bass a constant companion with plenty of time changes and fills keeping the music flowing and never doing the same thing twice.Joe plays a dirty guitar riff that when the track slows has a different slightly down tuned melody before he shines with a highly melodic solo in typical Joe style.Can't wait to see it being played live as the band interplay will be stunning. 

Lost In A Memory sees a change in pace with a near tribal drum pattern and a melodic guitar picked intro before it ups a gear with plenty of held Joe notes that evolves into more soloing.

Crazy Joe sees Joe bringing some funk into play before In My Pocket changes direction with a swing feel to it and added harmonica too before Joe unleashes a trademark solo with plenty of hammering on before the song then settles back to the swing feel.

That''s what I love about Joe's albums is the way the music changes direction sometimes song to song but they all fit together like a glove.Joe's creative writing drags you in and the songs are never over played just so well thought out with melodic textures built in and Joe soloing organically and fluidly when he feels the need and not just because he is expected to.

First single On Peregrine Wings has some quite amazing interplay from all the musicians which will be spell binding live as Minnemann again impresses with drum fills and always different and the band changing direction at will on a rocking number with long held Joe  melodic notes at it's core.

Cataclysmic sees a slight drop in pace with Joe adding guitar flourishes to a stop start riff with the production shining through and the bass of Beller and Keneally's keys adding a real depth to the proceedings.Mid song sees Joe soloing in ever changing styles with the band holding it all together underneath.

San Francisco Blue sees another facet of Joe's play on a slow bluesy number with Keneally again underpinning allowing Joe to add another string to his repertoire so to speak.

Keep On Movin' is one I keep going back to and the amazing band interplay this time with Chaney and Colaiuta on board.Time changes a plenty and some of my beloved light and shade as the song ebbs and flows and Joe fluently soloing with a beautiful melody at the heart of the song.

All Of My Life is a quieter number with added percussion flourishes and a swampy feel to the bass lines as Joe plays some delightful melodic picked held notes.

A Phase I'm Going Through sees Joe noodling over the band who again shine with a stop start drum and bass interplay that continues throughout  until mid song and Joe suddenly bursts into a solo that is just Joe.It is like a ray of sunshine as a fast fingered solo flies at you.Brilliant.

Scarborough Stomp is just that a stomp of a song with Hammond organ accompaniment and bubbling bass while Joe plays a line of melodic held notes before a mid song change with a big guitar riff that develops into an extended fluent solo.

Butterfly and Zebra is a 2 minute peaceful interlude that leads into If There Is No Heaven which has an early Joe feel that could have come from his very early albums.A perfect summers day (like today) song with an upbeat melody and pace and Joe shining with pockets of soloing.

Stars Race Across The Sky builds from a slow beginning with a gentle guitar melody over percussion to a full blown band workout and Joe soloing over Minnemann's ever changing drum patterns.You can imagine them eye balling each other across the studio and thinking right match this!!

Goodbye Supernova is an atmospheric album closer with Keneally's stop start keys the perfect foil to Joe's stop start soloing.On an album of band highlights this finishes it off superbly as it isn't all about Joe but about his musical legacy.

Shockwave Supernova sees Joe Satriani again setting the bar for excellence that all others fear to follow with a collection of music that will stand alongside anything he has ever done.

Photo Credit: © Chapman Baehler

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