Review Summary: As thrilling as it is bloated, The Aristrocrats debut shows great promise among instrumental soundscapes.
The Aristocrats are what some may consider a virtuous musical powerhouse, consisting of axe-wielding extradoinare, Guthrie Govan, drummer Marco Minneman and bassist Bryan Beller. Each musician of this morbidly talented trio clearly posses an outrageous ability to both improvise as well as compose catchy, off-tempo and ever-progressing jams. The track composition credits among the The Aristrocats
are evenly divided throughout the records nine tracks with each member accredited with three tracks apiece, respectively.
As you may very know, Guthrie Govan has been making a name for himself as a certified master of freakish guitar virtuosity every since his excellently crafted solo-instrumental debut record, Erotic Cakes
hit the shelves in 2006. Since then, thanks to YouTube recognition coupled with praise from some of the most revered guitar instrumentalist in the world today, (Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson to name a few…) Govan has amassed a rather impressive following as his influence throughout guitar communities spreads with each and every passing day. Drummer Marco Minneman is also a very coveted and accomplished musician as he’s played on various records spanning from Paul Gilbert’s Space Ship One
to most recently Steven Wilson’s The Raven That Refused To Sing
as well as shared tours and clinics with the likes of legendary percussionists Terry Bozzio and Chad Wackerman. Last but not least is bassist Brian Beller whose diverse band credits span from TV animated series Dethklok to supporting roles in Dream Theater and Steve Vai’s solo act.
The Aristocrats debut record is not short on draw-dropping moments to say the least, with the records greatest accomplishment being its ability to rarely if ever bore the listener throughout its sixty minutes of play-time. The album weaves between fierce and off-putting time signatures and synchronized grooves held impressively together by the trio’s innate, otherworldly chemistry and ability to jam out riffs that would put most jam bands rehearsed material to shame. There’s something here for instrumental music lovers of all kinds to sink their teeth in, whether it be Beller’s arcane ability to lay down tasty, yet never overpowering bass-lines to Govan’s awe-inspiring fretboard mastery to Minneman’s insane polyrythmic, swing infused drum prowess. The album is also quite varied as the tracks include everything from jazz-fusion to blues. Indeed, there is a lot here to like, with one of the biggest strengths being the minimal amount of egotistical representation brought forth by the trio.
While The Aristocrats
isn’t lacking in impressive sequences of musical enormity it is, almost understandably so, a bit over-bloated. While the songs themselves are an entertaining ride they hardly, if ever really make a lasting impact giving the record a sort of rather unfortunate fleeting aloofness. Song sections come and go and while the bits and pieces in between are as impressive as they are fun, they are rarely engaging. An exception to this however is the albums third track, Bad Asteroid which is a showcase of Govan’s skill as he demonstrates many of his go-to jaw-dropping tricks such as his unique fretboard tapping approach during the track’s bridge. Govan steals the show here during most of the album as his technique is a fine blend of fluid legato mixed with a raw sense of expression and feel that many shredders in similar categories desperately lack. Another note-worthy track is the record’s closer, Flatlands, which is one of more the subdued, emotional tracks and finishes the album on a rather aberrant note.
It’s rather obvious that The Aristocrats debut isn’t meant to be taken all too seriously. A single glance at the album’s track list would be enough to make that all but completely obvious with song titles such as “Blues ***ers” and “Sweaty Knockers.” Expounding on the aforementioned, the Aristocrats chose their band name after an age-old comedic joke to which Mr. Govan referred to as “the twelve-bar blues of stand-up comedy.” While The Aristocrats debut is far from a stunning realization or revolution of instrumental music it is a captivating, enjoyable collection of songs from a group of highly gifted musicians. Time will only tell what the future has in store for the band, but if their introduction is of any indication of what’s to come, the future is optimistically bright.