Buckethead: Empty Space (Album Review)
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
Release Date: July 14th, 2011
Review Date: July 17th, 2011
As if his thirty-first studio album "It's Alive" wasn't already enough to make minds explode all year long, Buckethead has come up with an immediate follow-up album titled 'Empty Space, the second in the 'Buckethead Pikes' series. It was originally released on May 20th exclusively on iTunes. It was then presented physically on July 7th, but only on tour. And finally on July 14th, it has seen a worldwide physical release, much to the delight of Buckethead fans all over. While 'It's Alive' let me completely speechless and awe-struck, 'Empty Space' really took things to the next level.
While Buckethead's genius on the guitar is still very much evident, the album opens up with a very bass-heavy track called "Comb And Wattles". The top line of the album credits reads: 'Buckethead: Bass and beak" which may be is an indication of what instrument the album is trying to focus on. "Wormers" has much more of a groovy feel to it, but even then, it's the melody resonating through the guitar solos that heightens the aural senses. Next comes the title track, another highly engaging and gripping roller-coaster ride full of insane progressions of notes and effects. The level of diversity in the musicianship you'll find in these four and a half minutes is enough to put 20-minute long prog rock tunes to shame.
The album continues to delight the listener with every twist and turn. "Dummy Egg" proves that virtuosic guitar play is not merely about playing a thousand notes per minute. This masterfully composed tune has simplistic riffs combined brilliantly with the crazy solos, making it just about as well-rounded a tune as any you would have heard all year. "Pullets" is much heavier and brings back the bass-oriented feel the album started with. It's always great to hear bass in the foreground, and I'm thankful to musicians like Buckethead for bringing it into the spotlight with tracks like this one, and indeed albums like these.
"Perched" is most definitely the weirdest tune on the album, having an almost completely electronic type of sound. Up until its half-way point, you would be wondering what this totally pop-sounding tune is doing on a Buckethead album, but right at that point the guitar and bass kick in to create an incredibly compelling mix. "Hatched" continues the massive 'avant-garde' ambience of the album, with a multitude of sounds arranged together in a way only Buckethead can. "Portable Pen" and "Leghorn" also aren't far behind in offering plenty to enjoy and admire, after which the album comes to a close with "Scrape The Dirt Off", a solid exhibition of virtuosic bass play, tying in perfectly with the bass-oriented theme of the album as if to sum up the whole effort within a minute's duration.
Overall, this is an album that greatly showcases Buckethead's skills on the bass in addition to his well known prowess on the guitar. It's apt that this album is being released almost simultaneously with "It's Alive", presenting to the listener two different aspects of Buckethead's musicianship. My favorite tracks so far are "Empty Space", "Dummy Egg" and "Hatched". One thing is for sure, the music on this album is simply too much to grasp in a single listen or even after a few listens, and somehow the same songs throw something new and different at me each time I listen to them.
A superhumanly piece of music.
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