Gianluca Magri – Reborn

Reborn is the debut EP from Italian guitarist Gianluca Magri; five tracks of instrumental rock which courts and runs with the imagination. Never showing off but proudly sharing the craft and enterprise of its creator, it is a record which just dances on the ear.

Teaching himself guitar at the age of 17, Magri subsequently studied at Cortina d’Ampezzo music school and at the MMI in San Biagio di Callalta. The years since has seen him as well as teach at the Music Area Academy in Belluno and at the Music and Soul school of Venas di Cadore play live with his solo band and with a couple of covers bands and from 2011 to 2016 play in metal outfit Phaith who released the well-received album Redrumorder. The autumn of 2017 saw Magri record Reborn, uniting since with Red Cat Records Inst Fringe for its recent release.

With its songs inspired by the likes of Gary Moore, Joe Satriani, Leslie West, Led Zeppelin, and Whitesnake, Reborn begins with its title track. Instantly its boisterous gait and infectious invitation had feet tapping and ears attentive, Magri entwining the latter with spicy grooves and tenacious melodies brought with a deft touch on his strings. Across the songs on the release, Magri is joined by bassist Diego Maioni and drummer Raffaele Fiori, their rhythms skilfully grounding the adventure of the guitar and egging on the listener’s physical participation with the growling tone of the bass adding a nice dark contrast to further grip attention. Just as Magri never over indulges his swiftly obvious ability, his songs never dally or linger, the opener just stirring up the senses and appetite, feeding both, and leaving with as enterprising punch.

The following Cloudbreaker brings a calmer climate though soon shows a lining of volatility which never quite erupts but adds drama and colour to the imagination nurturing encounter. Magri again weaves a magnet picture of sound, hips eagerly swaying to his composition as the imagination plays with rhythms adding earthier texture to his lofty and often fiery but always composed enterprise.

Snowballed is next up, the piece a fresh and boisterous affair with mischief in its smile and energy in its stroll while A.D.R. has a thicker body and touch but still one with a spirit warming brightness to its melody and air. Both songs spark ears and thoughts, thoughts easily conjuring alongside the sonic intimations as enjoyment of Reborn only thickened.

The EP closes with acoustic track Atlas Bound, Magri’s fingers gliding over his ‘canvas’ with suggestive craft and firm magnetism. It is a captivating end to a fine debut encounter with the guitarist. It is fair to say that we are quite fussy in our enjoyment of instrumental music and maybe have not yet defined what it is that lights our personal fires. We thoroughly enjoyed Reborn though across its every note and second so maybe the answer lies within; certainly pleasure does.

Reborn is out now via Red Cat Records Inst Fringe and available @ https://gianlucamagri.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/gianlucamagriguitar

Pete RingMaster 29/03/2018

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Xander Demos: Guitarcadia

Let us open with the admittance that guitar virtuosity has never been high on requirements for our tastes at The RR, the infernal indulgences and flamboyant intricacies no substitute to our preferences for riotous passion and inciteful riffing. That said there are a few artists which have emerged recently to show over blown excesses are not necessarily needed to create impressive and expressive guitar driven music. One such artist is UK guitarist Jay Parmar and now there is Pittsburgh musician Xander Demos. Both bring a more stable and balanced approach  for these tastes and though Demos especially does walk the line of excess at times it has a restraint which leaves us enjoying it more. Of course this is just personal and easily Guitarcadia, the new album from Xander Demos, is more than a vibrant feast for guitar lovers to purr over.

Demos is an artist who seemingly likes to keep busy as not only does he have his own solo band who back him on the album, he also plays in Into The Arena, the top cover band in his home city which he formed in 2006, and has recently joined the new East Coast chapter of the Sabbath Judas Sabbath project. With his own band, Demos has shared stages with the likes of Neil Zaza, UFO, The Dio Deciples, Lizzy Borden and Kip Winger over the past year or so and with the release of Guitarcadia through Rock N Growl Records, he is set to find his name open to international awareness.

Backed by bassist Matt Williams, drummer Chris Batten (with Dean Minerva and Mike Stover appearing on some tracks),

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and Adam Heuesy on keyboards, Demos ignites the air which what is impressively inventive and intelligent artistry. It may not always trigger our deepest responses but there is no denying his craft and heart which drips off every note. The album opens with Right Angles, a track with an eighties rock feel which flavours the wash of sonic skill which coats the ear from first note to last. The song reaches out to caress with scorched melodies and enticing harmonic mastery whilst the drums form a powerful frame to hold it all in place. In his bio the influences of Shawn Lane, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, and Vinnie Moore are listed amongst the main inspirations, and their essences can easily be heard in his inventiveness on the song alone.

The following Nothing Major again reaps essences from early guitar rock especially with the keys adding their own nostalgic embrace. It is a piece of music which feels like the soundtrack to a larger than life TV show or movie, it does not quite work for us but again Demos shows he is a manipulating wizard with fingers to make any girl sigh.

Many of the tracks for us have the same result, their impressive songwriting and play obvious and easy to applaud but they do not ignite any real sparks, the likes of Chase The Sun, Metagalactic, and Lady In Red, heated pleasures at the time without firing up any real passions. With our unfortunate for him different preferences we brought in a couple of independent opinions who love guitar playing extravaganzas to give a balance, and both found the songs and album an impressive and inspiring treat.

There were some notable moments on the album though which also had us licking our lips, firstly the first of two songs out of the ten which had vocals. Under A Darkened Sky is a melodic rock gem which is still eighties based but has a classic metal energy and presence to captivate fully as well as further show the eclectic breath of the album. The second vocal track is a cover of Boys Of Summer by Don Henley. Sadly it does not work and is the only unsatisfying track on the album. Musically it is imaginative as Demos energises it into a speedy metallic surge but the vocals are weak in comparison and the production even worse, there is a lack of clarity overall whilst the layers of sound do not blend so everything sounds clumsy and unrelated.

As said it is an exception and with the further consecutive highlights of the excellent White Knuckle Driving , Guitarcadia, and  Woodshed Sonata of such stature and compulsive quality is a mere blip. The first of the three is a feisty storm of incendiary melodic enterprise which dazzles consistently. It is the best song on the album though closely rivalled by the other pair, the title track a guitar player’s wet dream and the latter a piece of music which is as mischievous as it is muscular and absorbing.

Obviously Guitarcadia is not really the type of music which is best served by our personal likes but we can say if artistic invention and eye watering guitar skills lights your fires you should have a raging inferno inside over the new album from Xander Demos.

www.XanderDemos.com

RingMaster 24/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Stephan Forte: The Shadows Compendium

© Perrine Perez Fuentes.

To be honest The RR is not one to offer up time for indulgence and music that ultimately is just showing off no matter the skill and undoubted talent on show.  No matter the ability and sound guitar led instrument rock generally seems to end up long winded and over played to levels that has lost our focus long before. Now that is our preference and possible lost but that is how the land and personal taste lies. Just sometimes though to reinforce the ethic of still checking things out before assuming there is a release that steps away from past history to offer something different and intriguing. Such is the case with The Shadows Compendium from French guitar maestro Stéphan Forté. The album still steps into areas that push our limits but it is impossible to deny the stunning and impressive sounds and creativity within its vibrant walls.

Stéphan Forté first drew attention his way with his first instrumental demo Visions of 1997, the neoclassical-oriented sounds soon bringing him to the notice of the guitar community. The following year saw him opening for Yngwie Malmsteen and more sponsors, endorsements and industry attention accumulating. 2001 saw the first Adagio album, a band of musicians he recruited to help realise his compositions. Sanctus Ignis drew further acclaim in his homeland and further afield as did the following darker and orchestral/ choral powered Underworld of 2003. After a further two albums Dominate and Archangels In Black and well received concerts and tours, Forté decided to stretch and push his own musical limits which has become the solo project The Shadows Compendium. Three years in the making the album is an intense, diverse and deep exploration that is musically astonishing.

Forté takes influences ranging from Bartok to Meshuggah, twisting his play and sounds in ways and into shapes no lesser mortal can imagine let alone produce. It really is hard to state how powerful and uniquely distinct the music and ability within the compositions are; only the ear can give true representation. From the opening title track and its dark atmospheric intro the album never ventures into predictable even if at times the expected rears its lengthy head. With tower high riffs and melodies that scorch the ear Forté mesmerises with his string play and caresses with wonderful piano expertise. The piece buzzes around the ear at times constantly insistent and eager before making way for truly inspired work from the composer. An array of guests feature on the album with Jeff Loomis of Nevermore aiding here though for these ears which parts he or the others add elude against the mastery of Forté, and these are talented guys.

The aggressive intense metal fuelled elements connect the deepest with these tastes but there is no doubting there is plenty for rock fans of all preferences on The Shadows Compendium. Tracks like the senses twisting De Praestigiis Daemonu with guest Mattias IA Eklundh of Freak Kitchen and the provocative probing of Duat with Glen Drover of Megadeth leave the ear and beyond happy but exhausted. These are power driven though never are the intricacies and elaborate melodies and ideas left to the side. Spiritual Bliss and Prophecies Of Loki XXI dazzle with a lighter but no less staggering manipulation and control of notes, harmonies and any other musical aspect you can imagine from Forté.

The Shadows Compendium is immense and any musician and especially guitarists will have wet dreams over the album. Personal taste stops it being an album to return to often, at times parts are still overblown and overlong, and dare one say even Forté treads the fine line of indulgence. Then again should it not be that way, the man is a genius whom very few can touch, and it would be crazy to keep such flair and ability restrained. If you want to hear an artist make his guitar squeal and sing with a technique and skill that any woman would pay to feel then Stéphan Forté is your first destination.

RingMaster 21/02/2012

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