Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova | Legacy Recordings - 9.9/10

Amazingly, Joe Satriani turns 60 next year and as an early present to himself he releases his 15th Studio album on July 24th, 2015. This latest offering however, is not the work of a guy who is winding down or growing old gracefully. From the opening track, Shockwave Supernova is a fascinating journey and more importantly a great listen whether you are a Satch fan of old, a new convert, a lover of this genre or quite simply a lover of fabulous musicianship.

Talking of which, joining JS on this album are Mike Keneally (keyboards and guitar), Marco Minemann (drums) and bassist Bryan Beller.  In addition, several tracks include drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta (who let’s face it needs no introduction) and Chris Chaney, bass player with amongst others, Jane’s Addiction. 

The title track ‘Shockwave Supernova’ opens the album and smacks you sonically in the face with a classically tinged guitar and drum intro before breaking into a driving detuned groove. Eventually drawing breath for a brief anthemic pause, what immediately strikes you is the production; rich, spacial and powerful but with bags of clarity, courtesy of Joe himself along with John Cuniberti.

From this point forward the album is a true sonic experience that sees Joe and his assembled musicians plumb the depths of several genres of music and do so consistently well. Whether it is the shuffle of ‘San Francisco Blue’ or ‘Lost in a Memory’, a track which starts in an ethereal mood providing an initial blank canvas that Joe wastes little time filling with colour in the way only he can. His work on this track is tasteful and sits brilliantly on the solid rhythm that carries it along. 

 The standout songs are ‘Keep Moving’ which aurally lives up to its title. ‘In my Pocket’ swings and bounces infectiously and guarantees repetitive strain injury in your right foot.  ‘Crazy Joey’ (which I can only imagine is an autobiographical title) we hear a percussive finger picked riff which pierces the groove with precision before launching into a tasteful mid-tempo tap fest. This track immediately identifies itself as a live contender and in my view has its roots in a rehearsal room jam. It is quite simply a fun track; brilliant. ‘Scarborough Stomp’ has a very retro vibe about it with the addition of Hammond organ and once again the production value really gives this track a very live feel.

Another favourite has to be ‘All of My Life’. A progressive track which builds from a simple beat with Joe resisting the obvious temptation to fill the space with a thousand notes. Instead his playing is as tasteful as it gets and he chooses to vary his tone to keep the interest level extremely high.

Album dynamics are provided by tracks such as ‘Butterfly and Zebra’ which is a piano and guitar piece with Satch providing simple yet beautiful ‘swelled’ guitar melody for a wonderful 1m 46seconds. 

Joe closes with ‘Goodbye Supernova’ a track that is (as it title hints) other worldly; a song that makes you wish this wasn’t the last one on the album, but I guess that is what the repeat button is for. 

On the face of it, reviewing an instrumental album of 15 tracks should be difficult and the temptation here is just to say ‘yeah there is some great playing’ which is what you would expect from someone of the stature of Joe Satriani, but this album deserves far more than that. Satch fans will love this album and I think it is one of his best since his early albums from the 1980’s. It is a mature album, not showered in notes; it is restrained and tasteful.

There is no doubt that the strong rhythm section adds an extra dimension here (especially Vinnie Colaiuta) but this album is a great piece of work from Joe Satriani. 

 

Rating: 9.9/10

Track Listing:

 01. Shockwave Supernova

02. Lost In A Memory

03. Crazy Joey

04. In My Pocket

05. On Peregrine Wings

06. Cataclysmic

07. San Francisco Blue

08. Keep On Movin'

09. All Of My Life

10. A Phase I'm Going Through

11. Scarborough Stomp

12. Butterfly And Zebra

13. If There Is No Heaven

14. Stars Race Across The Sky

15. Goodbye Supernova

Satrianialbumcover

Reviewed by: Ian Dunbar

Label: Frontiers

Release Date: July 24th 2015