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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Guthrie Govan

Erotic Cakes

Review by Mark Jordan

There's a lot of guitarists that are heralded as "The Next Greatest" but there are relatively few that actually live up to the hype. I came across Govan whilst surfing the web about 12 months ago and the demo clips of him improvising to some taped backing tracks blew my mind. He really has masterful control over his instrument and seems to be always creative and cliche free.

Govan came to prominence by winning England's Guitarist Magazine's "Guitarist Of The Year.” He was a member of Prog group Asia from 2001 to 2005 and played on their album Aura and subsequent tour. Erotic Cakes is his first solo release and sees him ably supported by Seth Govan on Bass and Pete Riley on Drums.

Erotic Cakes is a guitar tour de force and shows off Guthrie Govan's awesome technical ability as well as his considerable compositional skills. With Erotic Cakes Govan has shown himself to be well worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon him in the Internet guitar underground. Some guitar based instrumental CD's get a bit tedious after a few plays but Erotic Cakes has enough memorable melodies, "listen to that" moments and breadth of vision to keep you coming back for more. If you love good playing don't waste a second; get out and buy the CD now. Check out the label site for more information (and to order the disc).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Waves
This starts with some faint seaside noises and then comes booming in with a very fluid legato arpegiated riff in a very groovy 4/4 time. It doesn't take long to get to the first solo that's performed with a hollow single coil neck pickup sound over some power chords. Govan quickly shows his ability to be both melodic and super fast. The middle section of the tune has a slight Latin feel with some nice key changes and a very clean solo sound. Enter a quite melodically bizarre version of the main riff and a short section of harmonised lead (Govan's Vai influence showing through). He takes the song home with some great rock lead over the power chords and legato riff.
Erotic Cakes
Here we have a much heavier tune with some tricky start stop riffing in the intro. It breaks into a "pedal to the metal" solo section. Everything breaks down for some rhythmic experimentation in the middle and the guys start "trading fours" in a way that the old jazz greats never thought of.
Wonderful Slippery Thing
A short bass intro gives way to a nice jazz/funk progression and clean toned solo. Another of Govan's melodic lead riffs comes in and segues into funky riff time. The tune swaps back and forth between the jazz and funk stylings whilst Govan shows off his undeniable skills.
Ner Ner
An acoustic rhythm riff gets this one started before Govan comes in with a typically melodic lead riff. The tune breaks down for a great solo. Then it's back to the lead riff and then another solo. There's a nylon string middle section interspersed with some stop start riffing, another clean tone solo with some nice octaves. There is guest solo by Ritchie Kotzen on this tune which I think is the second one. It's a big credit to Kotzen that I'm having trouble identifying the players. The outro solo on this piece is outstanding.
Fives
Funnily enough this tune is in 5/4. It has a nice intro and melodic main riff. There's a section that sounds very keyboard-like that I think is a tapping piece. It's back to the main theme and a great solo. Then there's a bass solo. We're back to the main theme again and out with the tapping part.
Uncle Skunk
A humorous/happy sounding riff over a slow funky syncopated beat that makes this up. It's quite Vai like in the way the guitar sounds happy and playful. It sounds to me like very imaginative use of the Digitec Wammy pedal, especially through the middle section and then multitracked at the tune's end.
Sevens
Guess what? This tune is in 7/4. Govan is nothing if not consistent. This has a good slow riff with emotive soloing over the top. We get a short show of his tapping prowess, a fast lead and back to the riff. The middle section feature a nice bass solo and then it's into a hectic aggressive section where Govan really lets loose and then we are back to the main tune. I think Satriani fans I will find this tune quite appealing.
Eric
A lovely ballad with some really interesting picking technique, This has great melodies and very tasteful playing. The track shows wonderful imagination in the execution of the notes and the happy/melancholy mood of the piece is wonderfully realized.
Slidey Boy
This tune has a definite fusion feel. There is some great acoustic soloing again featuring the excellent bass of Seth Govan. This would be close to my favorite track on the CD.
Rhode Island Shred
Here we get chicken pickin' and countrified intensity. The main riff utilizes a delay for effect and Govan plays a harmony overdub part at the end that's quite impressive. This is an interesting diversion into psycho country madness but a bit out of place with the rest of the material.
Hangover
Another ballad, this has lots of sliding notes and another great melody riff. We also get another nice bass solo and plenty of Govan going to town with the solos.
 
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