Beautiful is a term that usually doesn't come to mind when you first think ace guitar player Buckethead. Perhaps more fitting terms would be mysterious, unique or maybe even just plain weird. For the majority of his career, Brian Carroll better known as Buckethead, has been known to create some of the most surreal and anomalistic music ever to grace this world. From his earnest beginnings using samples of old Japanese television programs to the all-star collaborations on his 2005 album Enter the Chicken
, Buckethead has always remained one of the more eclectic guitarists of his time. However despite all the bizarre tendencies that define the bulk of his music, Buckethead also has one more factor that helps him stand out above the rest of today's guitar players: his unparalleled sense of melody. Throughout his early career, many subtle hints of this skill presented themselves in his playing sparingly, but it wasn't until 1998 album Colma
that these qualities finally garnered the limelight they always deserved.
It is really with Colma
that Buckethead unveiled his true potential, creating 13 tracks of the easiest listening you'll ever hear. Whats even more astounding is his ability to give each of the songs their own unique flavor, distinguishing themselves from one another with apparent ease. Some songs such as opener "Whitewash" or "Colma" display a melancholic edge to Buckethead's acoustic playing, with both songs containing very eerie and claustrophobic yet melodic twists throughout. Other songs however, like "For Mom" and "Hills of Eternity" are examples of more joyous, easy going melodies. "For Mom" in particular is a standout, with its layered harmonies and almost tropical sounding chords played during the climax of the song. Another song that deserves mention as one of the best songs on the album (and even Buckethead's entire catalog) is "Big Sur Moon". Combining alternate picked arpeggios with an echo effect, the song is just absolutely loaded with intriguing and highly addictive hooks.
Another element in the outright success of Colma
is the subtle use of background keyboards and outside instruments. Sixth track "Machete" is the perfect example, with cold, futuristic swathes of keyboard perfectly unifying with the soft, clean electric guitar strums. Track "Lone Sal Bug" utilizes the Cello, cleverly using the instrument for bass and brilliantly letting it deviate to create its own majestic harmonies. It really adds another dynamic and the result is nothing short of breathtaking.
While this is mainly an acoustic album, and while its main purpose is to inspire relaxation, no Buckethead record would be complete without his signature eccentric quirks. "Sanctum" is a perfect example, with a hip-hop inspired effected drum beat, and a crawling bass line. Its not before long that the song explodes with the masked maestro's speed defying solos, combining elements of blues, neo-classical and even some avant-garde guitar into short little bursts. "Wishing Well" also features some of Buckethead's great soloing, bringing more of a Spanish guitar style into play.
Majority of the time, something beautiful can come of even the worst situations, and the Colma
album couldn't be a better example. Created for the enjoyment of his mother whilst recovering from cancer, Colma
is more than just a bunch of songs thrown together, it's a testament of his support and love to his mother. While to some, this might seem pathetic and cheesy, if it wasn't for the strong emotions felt by Buckethead back then, nobody would be able to enjoy such a strong, uplifting album such as Colma