I thought I'd share with you the most recent addition to my collection. Outside of the fact that it is made in Japan, and likely mid-to-late 60s, I can't really tell you more about it's origin. The seller was quick to throw around the word Teisco and while that may very well be accurate, I'm not going to assert it as fact. I've seen the same truss rod cover and pickups on Imperial and Guyatone branded guitars specifically, but coming from a time when building guitars was anyone's game, who knows. There is no trace of any emblem or other branding anywhere; no glue residue, screw holes, etc.
However, I do know it has a definite resemblance to the Burns Bison. The pointed horns, large single coils, and a segmented pickguard really pick it out as an obvious influence.
The rotary allows you to select the usual 5 positions on a Strat, and offers a sixth position for all 3 pickups at once. I can't really tell what the slider switch does for sure, though it seems to be wired to the tone circuit (you may be able to see in the picture), perhaps some sort of boost?
Beyond the electronics, the hardware is the usual kind you'd expect on a guitar like this. Sadly, while the bridge is still easily adjustable, the roller saddles have succumbed to decades of neglect and are frozen. That said, without the bar, the vibrato won't do much good anyhow...but it sure is pretty! I also found the neck pocket pretty interesting.
This was a rare one for me, I never seem to get these old things in working order, it was nice to be able to clean it up and go without having to completely restore it! Plays pretty well thanks in part to a straight neck and fairly clean frets, I'm hoping to get it out on stage sometime soon!
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I’ve always thought that an Andy Timmons instructional video would be really cool and this definitely looks like a great video for TrueFire.com from Andy covering lots of musical concepts and then putting them into practice. Check out the video above for a full explanation about everything that is included in Electric Expression.
Andy Timmons Electric Expression is available to pre-order from truefire.com. Expected release date is October 1st, 2014.
TC Electronic have announced an update to the amazing sounding vintage voiced Alter Ego delay pedal, now called the Alter Ego V2. This is the regular size pedal the same as the original Flashback Delay, not to be confused with the Alter Ego X4 that was recently released. The Alter Ego V2 contains nine of the echo sounds from Alter Ego X4 including faithful recreations of the most sought after echo units such as the Echorec, the Space Echo and the Echoplex. The Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo also sports a built-in looper, TC Electronic’s proprietary TonePrint technology and the futuristic audio-tapping feature, which let’s you set the tempo of your delays simply by strumming your guitar.
T2 is a new Reverb pedal that contains eight new reverb sounds plus the two ethereal reverbs that made the original Trinity Reverb such a hit. “With T2 you get decay for days combined with beautiful swirls of modulation, making it the perfect addition to every ambient guitarist’s pedalboard.” T2 also includes TC Electronic’s TonePrint technology which, combined with the Windows or Mac Desktop or iPad toneprint editor you can create and save your own reverbs (or delays with the Alter Ego V2) and beam to your pedal via your phone or transfer via USB.
Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo and T2 is available exclusively at Pro Guitar Shop in North America.
The post New Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo and T2 Reverb Pedal from TC Electronic appeared first on Guitar Noize.
Aldren A. Watson, Country Furniture, 1974
I glued the back bindings onto the Hernandez y Aguado guitar copy (click here to learn more about that guitar) last Friday afternoon with great success. Then I turned my attention to my studio.
My studio is about 9'x11', space is at a premium, and I was hanging saws, braces and other tools that I use on a regular basis on the wall in a rather un-artistic manner, umm, the tools were hanging on nails. Not that that is a bad thing, just not aesthetic.
Several months ago I bought several bags of small shaker pegs at my local Woodcraft store so I could make better racks. Funny how long it can take me to get around to doing something, like finishing my new cabinet work bench so I can chuck my tool chest onto the trash heap where it belongs and clear more floor space.
Don't these saws look pretty hanging from pegs!
This is such a great way to display my tools, I always feared that one of them would jump off a nail and fall to the floor. Tool suicide. Now I need to make new racks to hang all of my clamps. Yes, there are several tools that still hang on nails, but I have forgiven myself for doing that.
The only electricity used to make these racks was that consumed by the over head lights, the boards were ripped by hand, finished with a Stanley No. 5 jack plane, the holes were drilled by bit and brace.
Now, turn off your computer or other electronic device and get out to the shop and make something!
Chasing Safety’s debut full-length album, Season of the Dead, is set to drop on Oct. 14, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hear some of the new music.
The Outerloop Records band recently released a lyric video for the track “Common Enemies,” which definitely rips hard with their two-guitar attack.
Check out the clip after the jump.
When Positive Grid released BIAS for iPad I, and to be honest I think anyone that tried it, was blown away. While I’m sure amp modelling software companies had tools like this internally to tweak their amp models, never before had the public had access to such an amazing piece of software to create and share your own creations. Not only does BIAS sound great it looks great too, that’s the beauty of the app it looks like you are really inside the amp tweaking settings and swapping tubes.
The only issue with having an app as iOS only is that it isn’t the most convenient when recording on your desktop computer, so much to the delight of guitarists all over the world and many bedroom and professional producers Positive Grid have created a plugin version of BIAS to use in your favourite DAW called BIAS Desktop.
I know my demonstration is fairly long but I wanted to run through BIAS Desktop’s various types of amp models and show how powerful the editing features are. I did include a demo track at the end which I think sounds amazing (the tones I mean). I plugged my Cilia CGA7 into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 which is connected to my iMac running Reaper. In the demonstration this is exactly the setup you are hearing. For the demo track I double tracked the rhythm guitars, added a lead track with slightly more gain dialed in, doubled the lead track toward the end of the solo and octave lower and added my Ibanez 5 string bass (also using a BIAS amp model) and finished it off with Superior Drummer.
Because I know some people won’t have the patience to watch my entire demo video here is the track I wrote and recorded using BIAS Desktop:
I can’t get enough of the Mark IIc+ model! I’d actually happily pay for BIAS if this was the only amp to edit, of course there area actually plenty of different amps to choose from to cover any situation and if a model doesn’t sound exactly like what you’re looking for you can change a myriad of settings, switch out the transformer, add an EQ after the preamp stage bias the power tubes, add or remove tube stages for more or less gain or switch the cab and mic placement. With the 36 models included you have every amp tone at your fingertips and to top it off you can download thousands of artist and user created and matched amp models from Positive Grid’s ToneCloud!
Now just one thing I feel I should point out, BIAS does not include effects such as overdrive pedals, chorus, flanger etc. which you get with some amp modelling software. BIAS concentrates on doing one thing really well. You will have to use your own effects plugins with your newly created amp creations. This is no big deal to me, I’d rather they concentrate on getting the amp models as close to the real thing personally.
One of the coolest new features of BIAS Desktop is the Amp Matching module which takes a sample of a real amp and makes internal changes to a ballpark model amp you have chosen to create a tone that is close as possible. Ryan Bruce has recorded a number of videos demonstrating this feature and he did such an awesome job with this Mesa Boogie Mark IV video that I thought it better to include here.
If you are someone who records a lot at home or in a studio Positive Grid BIAS Desktop is an absolute must have. If you use modelling apps live you will be better using the iPad version in conjunction with JamUp Pro. Either way PG have you covered and have created an amazing app which with the newly added Amp Matching feature moves their product into the realm of the super expensive hardware amp modelling units at a fraction of the cost.
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The Mesa Boogie Mark Five is a modern day classic, it includes the best tones from the company’s history combined with modern day metal tones enjoyed by the likes of John Petrucci. In short it’s a monster amp.
Well now Mesa Boogie have introduced a more compact and lower wattage version for those of us who aren’t selling out arenas called the Mesa Boogie Mark Five Twenty-Five which is a 25 Watt amp but is switchable down to 10 watts. The amp also includes Mesa’s new CabClone™ Cabinet Simulator Built-In with an Output and Internal Amp Load and Headphone Output – Featuring Closed-Back and Open-Back Voicings, Speaker On/Off and Ground Lift Switches!
The Mark Five Twenty-Five amplifier is powered by 2xEL-84 Power Tubes & 6x12AX7 Preamp Tubes, Fixed Bias for consistent, maintenance free performance, includes a Selectable 5-Band Graphic EQ – Footswitchable, Channel Assignable or Bypassable and has an All-Tube, Spring Reverb with Independent Channel Control (rear panel) and Fully Buffered, Tube FX Loop.
The amp has 2 channels with 6 modes that cover every possible tone scenario you can think of, you can read more about these modes on the product page.
The photo above is some sort of special edition version, the standard version comes with black tolex, check out the brilliant demos below:
A couple of weeks ago I received a message from a friend of mine in the US telling me about a guitar he bought. The surprise though was that he was sending me a one of his guitars that didn’t really get played as a gift! The guitar was an Ibanez RGR 1570, made in 2008.
The guitar is pretty much standard Ibanez fare in the construction, basswood body, maple/walnut 5 piece neck with rosewood fretboard, Edge Pro bridge and V8- S1 – V7 pickup combo. The small differences are what make this guitar unique. First is the satin black finish, an almost primer rat-rod looking finish that feels very different to the touch compared to a gloss finish. The other difference is the reverse headstock. My friend had also completed the V series pickup magnet swap as seen in my Polishing a turd, or how to improve Ibanez V7/V8 pickups post from a few years back.
Well, the guitar arrived today, and I am stoked with my new guitar. It looks as mean as anything, and plays phenomenally. There were a few minor tweaks I needed to make to the truss rod, bridge height and spring claw, and now it plays amazingly. Here are some pictures below:
A huge thanks to my friend Ryc for his generosity. I really appreciate this gift, and I can’t wait to get on stage next week and rip it up with this beast!
When I first saw the Music Man Wolfgang about 20 years ago I have to admit I didn’t like it, actually I still don’t but then the body shape and headstock morphed for the next iteration, the Peavey Wolfgang and finally the EVH Wolfgang by which point I was hooked. I think the refinements Eddie & co. have made over the years make the Wolfgang one of the coolest looking guitars on the market, especially the stealth carve top Wolfgang USA!
Anyway as you probably are aware the tasty Wolfgang USA series are not cheap so EVH bridged the gap with the Wolfgang Special which was a flat top version. This series has now been revamped and they will now feature a basswood body and arched flame maple top, crafted in EVH’s Ensenada, Mexico.
So now that the Special series has been upgraded EVH have added a new guitar to the range called the Wolfgang Standard which has the flat top.
“The EVH Wolfgang WG Standard, the most affordable Wolfgang model yet, is decked out with a flat top crafted with or without a gorgeous quilt maple top and featuring a special “comfort cut” forearm contour for maximum playing ease. Other features include a one-piece bolt-on maple neck with satin finish and graphite reinforcement, smooth and fast compound radius maple fingerboard (12”-16”) with comfortable rolled edges and 22 jumbo frets, dual EVH Wolfgang direct-mount humbucking pickups, two domed black control knobs (master volume, master tone), EVH Floyd Rose® Special bridge and locking nut, and EVH tuners. Available in gloss Trans Red and Trans Black finishes (quilt maple), and gloss Black.”
So if you have been wanting an EVH Wolfgang but couldn’t afford a Special you may want to look into the new Standard series because apart from bridge and the carve top the specs are the same. Now that the Special series have a carve top I may have to add it to my wish list!
For more information – EVH Guitars.
One of the late Who bassist's personal instruments has come up for sale on ebay. The following extract is from the eBay listing by the seller 8thstreetmusic:
A piece of Rock n' Roll history - from John Entwistle's personal collection the Warwick "Pink Buzzard" in a red metallic finish (circa 1985). Gorgeous Bass guitar with signed custom hardshell case and an Entwistle spider doodle. The bass plays and looks great, the Illuminated side dots added a little extra flare and visibility while on stage.Currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of US $32,500.
This bass has a huge crack down the middle and back. As the lore goes, while on tour in the mid 90's, Roger Daltry asked Entwistle to turn his bass down. In true rock and roll fashion, Entwistle threw the bass at Daltry and said, "you play the F***in' thing", as the bass hit the ground it cracked right down the middle.
© 2014, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Whoa! Mesa/Boogie is just smashing it lately. First there was the Cab Clone guitar speaker cabinet emulator that I raved about a few months ago and still find myself coveting on a daily basis. And now there’s… this! The Mesa Boogie Mark Five: 25, combining elements of some of Mesa Boogie’s greatest amps, switchable 10/25 watt power, inbuilt Cab Clone, 5-band EQ… in short it’s got everything you want from a Mesa/Boogie and more, plus it’s tiny and adorable.
Have a listen to it in this video:
Mesa Boogie says: “The MARK FIVE: 25, like the MARK FIVE it is born from, is really a collection of iconic amplifiers. There are far too many circuits and sounds to think of it as merely an amp… it’s a living history of MESA/Boogie!
In this latest 25 watt incarnation, the sounds and attributes that make MARK Series amps so popular on stage and in the studio are not only shrunk to their smallest possible physical size, but are also further refined and improved. The gorgeous sparkling Cleans and soaring high gain Lead sounds have made the jump successfully across output tube platforms and a new and exciting timbre of the MARK Series voice is created here in the MARK FIVE: 25™’s EL84 Duet. Brighter, tighter, more shredding in the top end, a bit more forgiving in feel and exceedingly more clip-able, the FIVE: 25 is right on time. Whether introducing the MARK heritage to a new generation of low wattage devotees, or fulfilling the ultra-portable Tone Dreams of steadfast MARK Series fans, the MARK FIVE: 25 has got what it takes to inspire and fuel your passion in the most manageable package ever!
The quick specs of the Mark V 25 are 2 channels, 6 modes – 3 per channel via 6 12AX7 preamp tubes, a 5 band Graphic EQ, 3 spring tube reverb and Multi-Watt Power selectability PER Channel, between 25 watts Class A/B Dyna-Watt and 10 watts Class A/B Triode… And the CabClone direct XLR and headphone outputs with Open and Closed back cabinet voicings.”
Floating bridges are a lot of fun to play. They’re not for everyone though. Less contact with the guitar typically means a thinner tone and less sustain. Floating setups also make it hard to be able to switch tunings on the fly. If you’ve got a guitar with a floating bridge that you love for it’s playability, but hate it for it for the set backs that the floating bridge has you can block the bridge. There are several ways that you can do this, give both a completely hard tail feel and dive only feels. One way is with a tremolo stop. Killer Guitar Components offer a great solution with their Aluminium Mega-Stop.
Looking at the Mega-Stop for the first time, it’s clear how much effort Killer Guitar Components have gone to make the product. It’s a beautifully milled piece of light-weight aluminium, that looks and feels rock-solid. Everything is provided to install the Mega-Stop too, which is a nice touch.
The Mega-Stop is a pretty simple item to install if you’ve got a drill and not afraid to use it. Killer Guitar Components have been nice enough to provide right size drill bit to make pilot holes for the screws that come with the kit. Following the instructions that come with the Mega-Stop, it’s a simple installation that most players will have no issues with completing. Line up the stopper approximately 5/8″ away from the sustain block, drill the first pilot hole, screw the first screw into the guitar, make sure you keep the stopper lined up and drill the second, and third (if you find it necessary) holes and screw in the remaining provided screws. Install the adjustment screw and use the supplied allen key to screw it in until the sustain block is just resting against the screw. There’s a other instructions, but it’s pretty much as simple as that.
So what difference does it make? The most obvious, and probably important part for many, is that the bridge is only capable of diving. You cannot raise the pitch of a note by pulling back on the whammy bar. This makes it a lot easier to switch to tunings like Drop-D, for example. People with Floyd Rose-type bridges that want to install a EVH D-Tuna will appreciate what the Mega-Stop can do for them. This is the reason I wanted one to install in my guitar.
The other benefit is much smaller, but will probably be appreciated by players too. Installing the Mega-Stop and getting it set up nicely against the sustain block gives the bridge more contact with the guitar body. This increases the resonance of the guitar, which is noticeable both acoustically and plugged in.
Having an adjustment screw also makes it easy to tweak your setup after installing the Mega-Stop. If your bridge needs to shift a little you just use the allen key to move it until everything lines up again.
If you are looking for a solution to turn your floating bridge into a dive-only one, and give you the adjust-ability that many DIY solutions don’t have then definitely check out the Killer Guitar Components Mega-Stop. There are two flavours, the aluminium one reviewed here, and a brass one. They will both offer you rock solid stability and added resonance and tone.
Atomic Mind is the third solo album from the super talented Canadian guitarist Nick Johnston. Nick has been carving out his own style of music for years and stands head and shoulders above a crowded landscape of instrumental guitarists as someone who is instantly recognisable. Nick has a certain sound not only when he is soloing but also when he is writing music, there are so many influences that come through in the music much like his friend and guest on the album Guthrie Govan. In fact there are a lot of similarities in Nick and Guthrie’s playing, they’re both on another level. An exciting addition to ‘Atomic Mind’ is the rhythm section, the supremely talented Marco Minnemann Drums and Bryan Beller on Bass, that’s right Marco and Bryan from The Aristocrats and currently touring with Joe Satriani. Needless to say these guys’ contribution enhance what was already a stellar album.
Nick has a quirky composition style at times which can be heard on tracks like ‘Ghost of the Robot Graveyard’, it has a sort of spooky melody as the title suggests, Nick likes to create a back story for each track and try to tell the story with the music. He plays the main melody with all this little ghost notes (ho ho), rakes and scrapes that show how much control Nick has over the instrument. They are the kind of additions that make the track but 99% of guitarists wouldn’t have time to add because they would be busy trying to play the melody. The reason you can hear so well all of these little inflections is because Nick uses a very pure guitar signal with single coil pickups and not too much gain. It is very much like a great vocalist, they don’t just sing the words they add in their own personality to the melody.
Nick Johnston made the transition to a Friedman HBE100 amp before recording this album and it sounds amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard a bad demo of a Friedman but the tones Nick pulls on this album are the best Friedman examples I’ve heard, plenty of gain when you need it but super articulate with crystal clear note separation. The Seymour Duncan single coils on his Custom Shop Fender Strat also help with this articulation and he seems to use this simple configuration throughout the entire album, using the volume control on his guitar to get all sorts of low and high gain tones. Check out the title track ‘Atomic Mind’ below:
Nick has also been kind enough to upload another track called ‘Silver Tongued Devil’ which begins as a kind of slow jazzy Bossa Nova which is so Nick Johnston, very quirky and transitions into a heavier track which reminds me of the Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro and features an incredible guitar duel between Nick and Guthrie Govan. Check it out below:
Nick Johnston’s latest album “Atomic Mind” has an exceptional lineup of musicians playing exciting and unique instrumental guitar music. Nick is growing with each release into a phenomenal musician and having Marco Minnemann and Bryan Beller on the album really augment each track.
To pre-order (or purchase the album if you are reading this post releae) head over to Nick’s website – http://www.nickjohnstonmusic.com/
Make sure you follow Nick on Facebook as he posts a lot of little videos and is always happy to chat guitars – https://www.facebook.com/NickJohnstonOfficial
Finally make sure you subscribe to the Nick Johnston YouTube Channel
If I have one criticism of the EVH Wolfgang, it’s that, well… they’re infuriatingly priced at what they’re worth! They’re great guitars with killer tone and playability. And they look cool. But they justifiably cost a pretty penny, especially if you want the USA stuff. But now the Wolfgang Special series has been revamped as a made-in-Mexico model (it was previously made in Japan and then China, if I recall correctly), and a new more affordable line called Wolfgang Standard has just been introduced too. And of course you’ll still be able to get the USA stuff as well if your budget stretches that far. Here’s the press release…
PRESS RELEASE: EVH is pleased to announce the launch of the Wolfgang Standard series and revamping of its popular Wolfgang Special series, offering all the quality players expect from EVH plus features not usually found on guitars at these price points.
EVH Wolfgang WG Standard
The EVH Wolfgang WG Standard, the most affordable Wolfgang model yet, is decked out with a flat top crafted with or without a gorgeous quilt maple top and featuring a special “comfort cut” forearm contour for maximum playing ease. Other features include a one-piece bolt-on maple neck with satin finish and graphite reinforcement, smooth and fast compound radius maple fingerboard (12”-16”) with comfortable rolled edges and 22 jumbo frets, dual EVH Wolfgang direct-mount humbucking pickups, two domed black control knobs (master volume, master tone), EVH Floyd Rose® Special bridge and locking nut, and EVH tuners. Available in gloss Trans Red and Trans Black finishes (quilt maple), and gloss Black.
EVH Wolfgang WG-T Standard – Tunamatic
The EVH Wolfgang WG Standard is also available as the EVH Wolfgang WG-T Standard – Tunamatic featuring an EVH Tunamatic bridge for rock-solid intonation and tuning stability.
EVH Wolfgang Special
The spellbinding new Wolfgang Special model is now available with a basswood body and gorgeous arched flame maple top, crafted in EVH’s Ensenada, Mexico facility with a re-imagined design that delivers more guitar at greater value than ever before. Features include a quartersawn maple neck with an oil finish and special Wolfgang profile, smooth and fast compound-radius maple fingerboard (12”-16”) with comfortable rolled edges and 22 jumbo frets, dual EVH Wolfgang direct-mount humbucking pickups, two domed black control knobs (master volume, master tone), EVH Floyd Rose® bridge and locking nut, and EVH tuners. Available in Tobacco Sunburst, Natural, Three-Tone Cherry Burst and Burnt Cherry Burst; and without the flame maple top in matte Stealth finish, and Gloss Black and Vintage White finishes.
For more information, go to www.evhgear.com.
If you want to add a little of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s sonic mojo to your tone – a rather worthy goal, if you as me – you could do a lot worse than to check out Petrucci’s line of signature guitars through Ernie Ball Music Man. They occupy a unique niche among shred-friendly guitars because their construction feels much more “serious-persons’ guitar” than the average shred plank. But Music Man guitars come with a price tag that reflects their quality. i.e.: they’re pretty dang pricey. So with the Sterling By Music Man line, the company has endeavoured to bring more affordable versions of some of their designs to players who might not have the financial wherewithal to walk home with the California-made stuff. The JP70D is based on Petrucci’s first Music Man model (there are a few other shapes now including the JPX and Majesty), and it’s made in Indonesia.
Sterling has quite cleverly designed its Petrucci models to be their own instruments, rather than mirroring any one Music Man model too closely. What you get here is a basswood body with a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard, 24 frets, a five-bolt neck joint, 25.5″ scale length, and locking tuners. The truss rod adjustment is at the base of the freeboard, and the neck shape is quite flat but a little deeper than many shred-oriented axes. This makes it great for positioning your hand just right for the complex chord voicings, speedy alternate-picked licks and slithery legato.
The tremolo bridge is a two-point non-locking type which is back-routed so you can pull up as well as down while maintaining the correct knife-edge angle on the trem posts, ather than floating the bridge at an angle like you might do for a Strat bridge. There’s some untidy rout work and some painted-over wood chips inside the trem cavity but other than that very minor flaw the construction seems to be quite high quality, especially in this price range. Hints that this is a John Petrucci model include the JP shield inlay at the first fret, his signature on the headstock, the distinctive ‘pointy dome’ control knobs and the forearm bevel, which is much more of a scoop than the typical angled slope. As for the electronics, this model is an upgrade from the JP70 model; the ‘D’ in this one’s model name denotes the use of DiMarzio pickups – in this case Petrucci’s signature Crunch Lab and LiquiFire hubuckers. They’re wired to a three-way pickup selector switch which provides a split-coil voice in the middle setting.
The Crunch Lab and LiquiFire are very midrange-friendly pickups with tight bass and slightly reigned-in treble. The Crunch Lab has a warm, woody kind of vibe and an interesting frequency quirk where it almost sounds like you’re playing a downtuned guitar even on the higher strings. It sits really well in recordings and has great cut onstage, and it’ll hang in there even when you’re playing those really fast unison guitar/bass/keys lines that punctuate various Dream Theater songs. The LiquiFire sounds ‘noodly’ – it loves to blast out bluesy licks and super-fast alternate-picked lines way up on the higher frets. And interestingly, the in-between setting with both pickups on in single coil mode sounds grittier, bluesier and more organic than Petrucci’s various earlier pickup sets.
This is an incredibly versatile, great-playing guitar that you don’t need to be a Dream Theater fan to appreciate. In some ways it’s a lot more traditional than it looks, and its tones really feel well-sculpted and musical. Even the tone knob – often a weak point on guitars like this – is carefully voiced and very usable.
There are some albums that you just get straight away because they reveal everything about themselves right upfront. Devin Townsend’s albums have never been like that. There’s too much going on on a whole bunch of levels: emotionally, conceptually, orchestrationally, texturally. And there’s a lot to digest with Z2. It’s made up of two very different albums, Sky Blue and Dark Matters. Sky Blue is the Devin Townsend Project, and Dark Matters is the sequel to 2007’s sci-fi metal opus Ziltoid The Omniscient. And some tracks feature the vocals of thousands of fans, invited to participate online in what has been named the Universal Choir.
In terms of Townsend’s previous output, Sky Blue feels like it’s related to Epicloud, Addicted!, Accelerated Evolution and Ocean Machine. It’s immense in scope, veering from stomping groove (“Rejoice”) to driving power (“Fallout”) to spacious moodiness (“Midnight Sun”) within the first three tracks. These three songs don’t tell the whole story, but they do seem to set up a few of the musical personalities that recur in different forms throughout the record. Some of the material comes off as rather radio-friendly, like “Sky Blue,” “Universal Flame.” Several tracks end in a quite different place to how they start. And although the final track of the disc is “The Ones Who Love,” it feels rather like the album begins to wind down halfway through “Before We Die,” when the triumphant melodies and the immensity of the Universal Choir give way to gentle ambient soundscapes.
On a surface level Sky Blue’s melodies suggest reflection and contemplation. On a deeper level there’s a darkness to this album – not the aggressive kind of darkness that permeated Strapping Young Lad, but a more mature, nuanced realisation that darkness exists, tempered by the optimism to deal with it rather than try to ignore it. It’s not an easy listen – in other words it demands your attention rather than lets you get away with popping it on in the background – but it’s a rewarding one, with new layers and subtleties revealing themselves on repeated listens.
Just as Sky Blue seems to have a few different levels upon which to view it, Dark Matters also has simultaneous multiple personalities. On one level this album is most definitely about Ziltoid’s latest adventures. But on a deeper level, Ziltoid isn’t really about Ziltoid. In a way this album is actually about what it takes to make an album like, in the sense that no note is just a note; it’s all part of a carefully constructed whole, and when you listen to it you’ll be aware of how much work must have gone into it. It’s an immense record full of tiny details, huge sounds, deliciously hammy voice acting, cinematic sweeps and the power of the Universal Choir.
Without giving too much away, the story involves Ziltoid momentarily enjoying the adulation of the people of Earth (and their representative Captain Spectacular, played by a suitably valiant Chris Jericho), until he does something that incurs the wrath of the War Princess of Titan. Sonically the experience is like hi-def, widescreen smellovision, and the compositions take all sorts of twists and turns in service of the plot. There’s nothing on here that can really stand alone outside of Z2 in the way that “Hyperdrive” did on the first Ziltoid record, but Sky Blue fulfils that function quite nicely anyway.
At times the story can be a little hard to follow as it gets swallowed up in the immensity of the music, although I’m sure it will all become clear with a lyric booklet and the accompanying comic. Stolen Babies vocalist Dominique Lenore Persi does a great job of embodying the War Princess’s pantomime-like villainy, both spoken and sung, and Ziltoid remains as quotable as ever.
Dark Matters is a wild, fun, occasionally silly experience which plays off nicely against the much more serious Sky Blue. It feels like both albums need each other: Sky Blue goes so deep that it requires the levity of the Ziltoid disc to balance it out, and Dark Matters‘ sense of vaudeville benefits from being able to lean against the drama of Sky Blue. Neither is an easy listen because they both ask a lot from the listener, but they both reward you for paying attention in different ways, and they both add up to a very satisfying, immersive experience.
Z2 is released on October 27 in Europe and October 28 in the US via Hevy Devy/InsideOut Music.
Focusrite have announced a follow up to their popular iPad audio interface, the iTrack Dock with a mini version for iPhone called the iTrack Pocket, a portable, high quality stereo microphone and guitar input that lets you create and share videos using your iPhone.
The iTrack Pocket holds your iPhone at the perfect angle for recording, then captures your performance using a stereo microphone that eclipses the quality of your iPhone mic and a dedicated guitar input with built-in amp simulation.
iTrack Pocket Comes with the easy-to-use app, Impact by Focusrite, which will make your performance look and sound professional, then let you upload it straight to YouTube.