Joe Satriani's | Crystal Planet | ... A Track by Track Fan Review

Epic Records Group

[[catalog number 7464-68018-2]]

| Crystal Planet | starts with a slam and never lets up. With nary a rimshot or even two, three notes of introductory sound to call the ears to attention, "up in the sky" blasts into the consciousness, relentless in its energy. The message is unmistakable: Joe Satriani flexes his musical muscles, announces his continued presence within the rock guitar world, and once again delivers a musical feast for his listeners and fans. This latest album is yet further proof of his profound musical common-sense, his awesome technical talent on the instrument, and his uncanny instincts for making the most incredible music available anytime, anywhere, on ANY PLANET.

[[hmmmm, I'm think she likes it!...8-)...]]

Aside from cuts with obvious mass appeal like "ceremony" and "love thing", and along with STOMPIN' tunes like "...bullets" and "psycho monkey", and unique cuts like "time" and "a piece of liquid", my initial fave cuts are "raspberry jam...", "secret prayer", and the-planet-itself, the title song: "crystal planet".

Every track has something to offer.....

1. "up in the sky" is a perfect lead cut - high-energy that never lets up - it's j-u-u-u-s-t right, setting the pace for all that follows - and a smokin' pace it is!

2. "house full of bullets" - just the thing that appeals to that part of me you don't see at first glance - I mean, ho-hum, middle-aged, happily married, mother of two (*yawn) - it's not outwardly obvious, the part of me that loves to rock and roll. As the 2nd cut, it is well-placed within the program, coming after "up in the sky", with it's equally unrelenting rhythms.

The underlying form (standard 12-bar structure) is easily and quickly grasped, never needing to vary throughout the entire song. It's a welcoming space, made comfortable by virtue of its repetitive, reassuring groove. The effect is immediate and expansive, providing ample room for Satriani to move around and explore on the guitar. This is a large, spare, lean canvas on which to write with bold colors and intricate patterns.

Not that I didn't like it right from the start - I did - but I've been pleasantly surprised to report this song continues to "grow" on me: every time I hear it, I gotta hear it some more.

3. "crystal planet" moves directly from that stompin edge to an energy level even higher than the lead cut. Here is an overview of the territory we are about to explore - this place is BIG, it's wild, it's beautiful - it is "Satrionics" at full power - undiluted, bracing, and all-encompassing - a welcome listening experience for the faithful, as well as new fans.

The rhythms and riffs on this NEW MASTERPIECE are positively *Wicked, they're so intense and captivating.

4. Having blasted away all resistance, cleared out unused space and taken-up residence, the album is ready for a breather: the lovely and subtle "love thing" - ohhhhhhh - good one - tender, moving, blissful, restful - a touching journey into the heart-space - a New Satriani Classic. His tonal control of the wah is used to breathtaking effect - Joe gets places with the wah pedal that defy the average mundane preconceptions of what it can or should do. [[Way to go, Joe! Show us the way. Show us what is possible...]]

5. "trundrumbalind" - what does this title mean, anyway? where did this come from? a mystery, just like the song, itself - different, engaging, fascinating - an excursion into the weird, wild, wooly 5/4 realms of the far reaches - strange jungles - exotic flora and fauna. Expect, welcome, and embrace the unexpected while exploring this unusual dreamscape.

6. "lights of heaven" combines the ethereal with the gutsy - the power-rhythms move the album directly back into the rock-beat space, further revealing the landscape of the Crystal Planet.

7. "raspberry jam delta-v" - an incredible buzz right away - delight from start to finish - more and more fascination - another high-energy relentless crowd- pleaser from the first moment to the final drop of sound.

8. The initial cut released for radio airplay, the single "ceremony" really MOVES! It calls up these intense primal energies++. And on top of that, it's addicting! Every time I hear it, I want to hear it *again, and *right away. Excellent choice for the single.

[[..++ ...I wish to point out my choice of the descriptive word "primal" was truly my initial reaction, with no outside influence whatsoever. Notwithstanding my contention of non-contamination, the reader will note this same word is used to describe the song in the "Performance Notes" by Paul Pappas accompanying the Tabulature in _Guitar_ (April 1998) shortly after the single's release. "Throughout, the melody and harmony retain an appropriately primal character."

Hey, we're both right. I simply feel the need to make this perfectly ("crystal") clear (sorry):: I did NOT "borrow" the term from Mr. Pappas, rather, I chose it on my own *before reading it in _Guitar_. In fact, I felt pleasantly validated when I discovered this statement - to see this same reaction from another writer..]]

9. "with jupiter in mind" - complex, heavy harmonic textures multiplied to create an impressive, massive, imposing sonic environment in which the melody/solo wails like a knife slicing through the thick foggy gases, carving its unique name on the surface of this richly overlaid canvas, so closely resembling the 5th planet it's downright scary. In a similar vein to "LFG", this song rattles the sensibilities with awe-inspiring intensity.

[[for me, it works better earlier in the program, either right after #5, or directly after #7 - just my opinion, and this is the *only* change I would make to this outstanding album; this planet of wonder; this challenging, brilliant space]]

10. "secret prayer" with its hypnotic lead-in, lays claim to one of my fave solos on the album.

11. "a train of angels" - reminiscent of "Summer Song" - fun, and easily assimilated - a good time.

12. "a piece of liquid" - mesmerizing - its gently persistent beat underlies the spacey guitar vocal - a seductive song - beautifully pleasing.

13. The driving, pounding beat of "psycho monkey" accompanies the crazed power-vocal of Joe's guitar - just the thing to remind the listener why rock and roll was invented - another "stomper" - I love it - with a subtle demonstration of expertise and finesse on the feedback outro.

14. The commerical release of "time" has long been requested by Satriani aficionados. It fits the mood of the album quite well, and is a welcome addition to this fine family of outrageously mondo tunes!

15. "z.z.'s song" - even more tender than you could imagine - the perfect benediction.

It is our extreme joy, as fans, to have the privilege of discovering the inner and outer dimensions of Crystal Planet, brought to us through the magic of Joe's guitar, through the magic of studio recording. Enter at the beginning (brace yourself!) and take the ride of a lifetime - a tour of Crystal Planet - no passport required, just bring your ears and your soul - a must-see, must-experience place, a journey worth far more than the money spent on the cd.

Thank You, Joe - once again, you've struck pay dirt in our hearts - major score - you continue to deliver the goods and as a result we are all further enmeshed in the Cosmic Debt - a blessed transaction indeed, and the perfect invoice to grace the entrance to this new and exciting place.

...peace...


(&&&) Links to ...

G3 Concert Review ... : ...River Queen Showplace 9/28/97
"Questions" (c) by Faye Manning ... : ... (un)poem dedicated to one of the three "G's"... ...lyric(?)... ...philosophy...
[[coming soon]] "Satriani Stories" ... : ... fans share their experiences... ...real slice of life stuff...
Front Door ... : ... Contents... ...Dragon... ...What's Cookin'...
| Joe Satriani | 1995... : ... Alternate Listening Program...
Way Precious Kid Stories ... : ...got kids?... ...mine are Major Satch Fans... ...for kid lovers *O-N-L-Y*!...
Three Essays on Live Performance ... : ...The Value of Live Music... ...Studio vs. Live - the Yin and Yang of Music...



[[...March 1998...]]

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