Review Summary: A solid album that fully embraces ferocious guitar playing, experimentation, noise, and randomness, although, in excess these elements ruin a few songs.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Well since no one is going to read this anyway it doesn't really matter what I say about this album. This album is a timeless masterpiece that stomps all over any given piece of music written in the last 2 or 3 centuries. This album is more offensive than chewing gum in public and the Holocaust combined. Blah...whatever. This is a decent album, I believe, which means that I'm going to have to review it.
Buckethead has a pretty varied discography, from the surprisingly restrained atmospheric blues/rock epics on Population Override, to a few different concept albums about Buckethead's own fake amusement park, Bucketheadland, which works as hard as it possibly can to insure customers bodily harm and mutilation, though you aren't always guaranteed such treats. There's everything in between, too, like the electro-turntable psychedelic shred music that is Bermuda Triangle. Buckethead has a multitude of ideas, and more adequate chops to pull any of them off, but this does not always ensure a great record. This is the case with parts of Kaleidoscalp...some songs just don't do the trick, or any tricks for that matter. But tricks or no tricks, Kaleidoscalp is still, as I said, a decent album.
Kaleidoscalp is one of Buckethead's more metallic releases, which means that it flaunts the occasional headbager's anthem type riff. But before you get comfortable, Buckethead pulls the carpet out from underneath you with whatever he wants to throw into his song, be it a flurry of notes buried beneath so many effects Omar from the Mars Volta would take his hat off, or an electronic noise freak-out of some sort. Nothing is safe to assume about a Buckethead album.
But this, I think, is one of the album's flaws. It sometimes tries to hard to be off-the-wall crazy, and puts experimentation in a place it doesn't belong, which sacrifices cohesion for insanity. This is alright at times, and it's probably what has distinguished Buckethead most as guitarist (other than his white mask and KFC bucket hat, of course), but it's just annoying sometimes when a riff or a progression of riffs, or anything that you want to take time and soak up is haphazardly thrown away to make space for jarring amounts of generic shredding or noise wankery. Check out the first minute and a half of the first song, "Frankenseuss Laboratories". It really feels good until...what? What did he just play there? Suddenly you are disrupted by a ridiculous lead that is blazingly fast and barely sounds like a guitar, which is all cool, but here it is utterly meaningless. It's not menacing, or aggressive, or somber and mournful, or anything at all....it's just lame. But thankfully, the song get back on course quickly, and in the grand scheme of things, it's one of the highlights of the album, and its later attempts at randomness don't feel so misguided.
Another highlight is "Pylon Shift". Check out the splashy, watery effects on his guitar in one riff and the insane drumming (heard all throughout the record, although they're probably programmed). And then around 3:15 or so you get a face full of...acoustic balladry!
"The Slunh, the Gutter and the Candlestick Maker" is another choice cut from the album, most notable for its cool combination of distorted guitar screeching, thumping bass, and what's that...an out of tune banjo? And my guess for the noises at the end of the song? Aliens snorting cocaine.
This is all done in good fun, but Kaleidoscalp can be a pretty tiring listen since a lot of its more prominent characteristics, like the ridiculous drumming, or the distorted, super-rhythmic chug-fest riffs, have a same-sounding quality. This means that the tracks that rely almost entirely on these elements, like "Breakfast Cyborg", tend to be the worst, and least memorable.
Kaleidoscalp is a funny mix, alright. Its metal elements probably won't be enough alone to satisfy metalheads, and the shredding is probably not what the average Joe Satriani fan is accustomed to. As for the other stuff? Well...I guess you just have to be in the mood for it.
One last thing...Kaleidoscalp's last song, "She Sells Sea Shells by the Slaughterhouse," is the biggest surprise of all. It's nothing flashy...just a simple, genuine guitar instrumental ballad, which is more shocking than any of Buckethead's usual song treatments by this point.
There you go...a review of Kaleidoscalp. Now hopefully you will be able to make more informed decisions in your local compact disc marketplace.....er....thanks for reading.