Album Reviews

California Guitar Trio – The First Decade

UK release date: 6 October 2003

There is a scene at the start ofThe Beach where Leonardo DiCaprio advises wannabetravellers not to outstay their welcome. I think thesame philosophy can be applied to music, and I thinkthat on this album the California Guitar Trio don’t abide by it.

With 19 tracks, this album is simply too long, evenif some of the tracks, such as Kaleidoscope at under aminute, are short. It’s not that the songs start tobecome bad per se – it’s the fact that they start to sound too familiar, toosamey.

On the flipside, this is aguitar player’s album. Most of the tracks are the saidtrio with acoustic guitars and nothing else – no drums,no bass, no piano and no vocals. And what damn fine guitarplayers they are. The entire album shows off the Pittsburgh (!) trio’s talent. It sounds likeit was recorded live and in one or two takes as thereare times when you can hear “fret buzz”. This justadds to the character and adds a more personaltouch.

The best tracks on the album arethose that are more frantic. Opening track Yamanashi Blues, the opusTrain To Lamy Suite Parts 1-5, Beeline, Melrose Avenueand Pathways are fast and hectic and for the guitarplayers, full of hammer ons, trills and pull offs.The trio speed up and down the fret board with eachguitar accompanying the last with pinpoint accuracyand technique.

It has its own style, butthere are touches of classical, Spanish, Flamenco,rock and jazz guitar. Many of the song titles give youan idea for the feel of this album: Beeline, Pathways,Scramble and Kaleidoscope. They all invoke an image bythemselves and the relentless acoustic guitar adds toan almost futuristic soundscape.

For those not familiar withtheir work, take the guitars of an OzricTentacles album, put them onto an acoustic guitarand take away all the swooshes and electronic noiseand you will be on your way.

The Last Decade is not the mostaccessible album and will not reach Number One. It’smore for music connoisseurs who appreciate realmusical talent and ability when they hear it, rather than over-produced, irrelevant pop tripe. That said, it is too long and even the most ardent fan will find themselves skipping some of the middle filler.

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