VARIOUS ARTISTS - "THE ALCHEMISTS" (LIQUID NOTE RECORDS)
Recently a new music label was set up. Called Liquid Note Records, it aims to be a haven for guitar virtuosos to have their music released. To warm up the masses as it were, Liquid Note Records decided to throw together a bunch of guitar wizards and release tracks displaying their craftsmanship on a double CD. The result is called "The Alchemists", featuring 27 tracks, or about 140 minutes of thoroughly satisfying six-string magic.
Richard Daudé - "Dark Ages": A very heavy track with some totally insane guitar work. Like the musicians wanted it to be, it is an eclectic mixture of romantic and brutal moments. Cool track!
Guthrie Govan - "Fives": This track is a little more jazzy, with more clean guitar work, will awesome though. The bass guitar section is also quite a challenge.
Terry Syrek - "Ritual Dance at the Foot of the Mountain of Om Al Saiif": Another very, very heavy track, with insane rhythm changes and a solo guitar climax that seems off of this world. Not just
Stephen Ross - "Schrodinger's Cat": Laid back track with some impeccably great acoustic guitar work. This track shows a side of Stephen Ross I didn't know, having been more used to his 'standard' electric guitar work.
Richard Hallebeek - "Seasons": A very atmospheric track, with changes reflecting the title. Very jazzy, with some really cool drumming and keyboard work to boot.
Todd Duane - "The Rain". Another very interesting and captivating track. Not as crazy as his "Overload" track on "Ominous Guitarists...", it is still very impressive.
Marc Pattison - "Crash & Burn": A nice track, however the guitar is played through so much distortion that it's difficult to make out the individual notes (though you can tell there's some good stuff going on). In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of, erm, Joe Stump there.
Dave Martone - "What the Hell": Very confusing track, intentionally so. There's gently sounds with distorted sounds, there's relaxed and totally opposite bits. Unusual percussion, widely (and, indeed, wildly) varying guitar sections. Fascinating, despite it being quite long.
Scott Hughes - "Common Ground": A little folky, with clean electric guitar playing over a simple acoustic chord progression.
Magnus Olsson - "Whatever It May Be": According to the story in the booklet, this track started out with an experiment in drum programming. Well, the experiment is a success, because the drums sound most innovative and actually not like a drum computer at all. It's an insane rhythm that may be very difficult for a human to play... And the jazzy sounding guitar work is at the same high level as most tracks on this compilation.
Bumblefoot - "Mafalda": For those who know how crazy Ron Thal can get solo or in Bumblefoot, this is not much of a surprise...but if you don't, than this is possibly the craziest track on the compilation. Very, very weird. Don't listen to this on an empty stomach or something.
Phi Yaan-Zek - "Out in the Boonies": A very unusual and somewhat weird track with good guitar work, but for some reason it seems not to agree with me entirely.
Lyle Workman - "Rising of the Mourning Son": A laid-back track with some really good bass work in particular. Maybe I should visit Snowdonia National Park some day, as the accompanying notes explain it was inspired by that area of the UK... At nearly 10 minutes, however, the track fails to captivate sufficiently towards the end.
Milan Polak - "Sometimes I Still Miss You": A pretty sensitive sounding track with a sweet re-occurring guitar theme alternated with vicious runs up and down the neck. A beautiful closer of the first disc.
Mario Parga - "Valse Diabolique": Played over a simple background chord progression, this is quite a beautiful tune demonstrating some fine guitar work.
Derryl Gabel - "Tell Me". Technically a very OK track, a bit too jazzy for my taste. The drums (drum computer) sound very un-organic and use way too much cymbals (which don't sound that good to begin with).
Joboj - "Screaming Chicken": A track that will end up on the man's next solo album, concisely called "X". It's a really frantic track with a lot of unusual-sounding things going on. Pretty cool, pretty heavy, excellent guitar work.
Stefan Rosqvist - "Neverland": In itself not a bad track at all, however his own description is very apt: He rubs a theme in your face a zillion times. The theme itself is quite beautiful, but even such beauty has an interest threshold. And to think this is a shorter version...
Scott Stine - "Day Off": Starts off slow, then works up towards a rewarding crescendo of Rob Johnson-like shred, after which is slows down a bit again. A sonic version of the guitarist's diary, almost.
Joy Basu - "Phase 4". I am not sure what to make of this. It's metal shred atop a very techno-rave-sounding nightclub kind of track. I am not even much convinced that it's any good technically.
Dave Kilminster - "If the Moon": Guitarwise, this track contains some of the talent and atmosphere of "Perspective"-era Jason Becker. Quite a sensitive track, marred only by the fact that keyboards and drums were programmed.
Rusty Cooley - "War of the Angels": Though not helped by the computerised drums, this is a cool, heavy track with some blistering guitar work going on.
Cyril Achard - "Barock": Quite an excellent track, played acoustically and therefore somewhat unusual on this compilation. I personally think the drums are a bit too much in your face here and there.
Brett Garsed - "Bad Luck Go Away": A nice track that doesn't stick out much from the rest of the tracks, however.
Rob Johnson - "Super Charged": Taken from his existing recording, "Guitarchitecture". Plenty of Rob Johnson's typical trademark chops. A cool and pretty heavy track.
Stephan Forté - "The Prophecies of Loki": Dark-sounding, heavy and slightly crazy track with some awesome guitar solos laid on top of odd piano runs and very heavy riffing. Kevin Codfert performs some exquisite keyboard solos as well. Good stuff, this, and probably my favourite track on the second disc.
Vladimir Korovin - "Olga": Dreamy cut, played by a full band, and you can hear it. Sounds much more natural. The main theme sounds quite familiar, but nonetheless a nice closing track.
Concluding, "The Alchemists" is the coolest guitar sampler this side of Shrapnel's "Ominous Guitarists of the Unknown". It is, quite simply, a CD that every shred/neoclassical/virtuoso guitarist afficionado should own.
Written August 2002
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