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Buckethead | Bermuda Triangle | review | rock | Lollipop
Bermuda Triangle (Catalyst Entertainment)
by Lex Marburger
I haven't gone full-blown sycophantic for quite some time. Pardon the drool.
You might think that the new guitarist for Guns N' Roses, as seen at the MTV music awards, is a freaky lookin' piece of work, and you'd be right. But you'd be overlooking the fact that Buckethead is one of the most creative & talented guitarists to come along in quite some time. Don't give me that shit about Tom Morrello: Yeah, he makes his gitter squeak & squeal like some backwoods hiker caught in a bear trap while being sodomized, but that's just fancy trick-making. If you look at Buckethead's history, you'll see the guy doing things Mr. Rage ATM/Audioslump could never take on, from heavy metal atonal riffing (Praxis) to creepy-ambient environments (Death Cube K) to drum 'n' bass (Colma), all of which merge together on Bermuda Triangle.
I agree that, when he started his career, he was all about speed and other wacky stunts, like playing as fast as he could and not stopping for 10 minutes (Day of the Robot). The only thing preventing this from being extremely boring in a Yngwie Malmsteen way is that his musical sensibility lead him beyond the point of normal note choice. He'd go places that no one this side of Coltrane would even consider. When he got into his Death Cube K (an anagram of Buckethead), as well as when he had a stint in Golden Palominos and a few Laswell projects, he learned a very important lesson: To take a breath now & again. His playing reached a new height, now knowing when not to play, giving his lines a life & spark that made them sound like the almost-coherent ravings of a schizophrenic philosophy major. Putting these ideas into a d'n'b setting was a bold step: Guitars were considered verboten to the majority of DJs, especially metal guitar (no matter that The Bomb Squad [Public Enemy] had been slipping metal riffs into loops for decades). But in doing so, he opened up the doors for new vistas of hyperactivity. The frantic rhythms and solid basslines of d'n'b were an ideal palate for Buckethead's technique.
Bermuda Triangle combines his old ideas into a cohesive album, using Extrakd (Gonervill, El Stew) to create a multitude of beats & backgrounds for Buckethead to lay on all he's learned. Snippets of blazing metal, washes of delayed patterns, relaxed lines matched with stuttering drums, and vice versa. An extremely well-thought-out album, as well as another step forward for guitar music.