Paul Gilbert - 'Fuzz Universe' (Mascot Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Andy P   
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 05:50

paul_gilbert_fuzz_lrgIn the early 80s as an aspiring guitarist I dreamed of going to G.I.T (The Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles). I was an avid reader of Guitar Player magazine and godammit I wanted to immerse myself in guitar playing heaven. Alas I didn't go, instead learning guitar from Arlen Roth Hotlicks tapes and a VHS of Gary Moore live in Germany, the amount of time I paused and rewound that video I'm surprised it didn't snap. The closest I ever came to G.I.T was an REH video called 'Intense Rock' by Paul Gilbert who was a student there and subsequently also taught there.


And so fast forward 20 odd years and I'm sat here listening to Paul Gilbert's 'Fuzz Universe', in the intervening years I haven't heard any of his previous solo albums, I liked 'Addicted To That Rush' and 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind' from his stint with Mr Big and I often saw his guitar lessons in magazines.


Armed with his Ibanez Fireman (the shape of which is virtually a vertically mirrored Iceman) we have Paul Gilbert twisting his signature style into a variety of instrumental tunes over twelve tracks, on this his third solo album which is replete with shredding, nuance and tonal shifts.


Album opener 'Fuzz Universe' starts with a Rush like phase-shifted guitar figure in 5/8 and then moves into what reminds me of an Ozzy Osbourne track with Jake E Lee supplying the chordal work and Randy Rhodes soloing over the mellower sections.


Gilbert's inimitable style and sound dominate even when references to other guitarists show through, such as the Hendrixy 'Don't Rain On My Firewood', the mix of Pete Townsend/Dixie Dregs on 'Olympic', the Eric Johnson, A lydian flavoured 'Blowtorch' and the 'Not Of This Earth'/Satriani vibe on the Todd Rundgren track 'Blue Orpheus' which begins with a nod to Brian May.


If I were to highlight my favourite instrumental from the album it would have to be 'Propeller' with its effortless 7/8 groove over an Am G7 vamp. Gilbert doesn't go mental on this track he exhibits sublime restraint. The stabbing Hammond organ chords add greatly to the feel along with the contrapuntal bass line giving it a jazzy fusion rock feel.


In the mix we also have 'Bach Partia In Dm' a Crossroads style classical piece. 'Count Juan Chutrifo' has a funky 70s rock feel with a hint of progressive rock, 'Will My Screen Door Stop Neptune' with its full on shred solo mode, 'Mantra The Lawn' has a kinda question and answer motif with a second guitar adopting that Roto Leslie speaker sound to good effect and, lastly, there's the Ren and Stimpy 60s surf vibe of 'Batter Up.'


Whilst these days instrumental albums aren't a regular feature in my CD player I'm still partial to a well-executed augmented arpeggio chock-full of fuzz. Paul Gilbert sure does love his notes. Having said that there's plenty of restraint and it sounds like a band having fun. If you're into instrumental albums of the guitar variety you know what to expect. If this ain't your thing then, these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along.