Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Agata
Spike


Released 2004 on Tzadik
Reviewed by MrNick, 12/05/2007ce


Disclaimer: The following review is an inadequate review due to the limitations of the English language. This album should be experienced, as it is nearly indescribable

Guitar has always been an extremely integral part of rock music since its creation. As years went on people thought it would be a great idea to release guitar solo albums to the public. People such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen and the like have released album after album of highly sofisticated, classically trained, metal guitar soloing. All of these guys are considered legendary for their playing but nobody acknowledges the fact that a large percentage of these metal guitar heroes have become stuck in a time warp, unable to escape the grasp of 80s hair metal bombast and power-metal grandiosity. It really gets quite dull and repetitive in my opinion. Thankfully, we have Agata. Agata has been the guitarist for Noise/Pop/Electronica/Punk outfit Melt Banana for fifteen years and has scraped, squealed, and sandblasted his way through nine albums and a large amount of 7"s with the band, playing alongside squeaky vocalist Yasuko, a very competent bassist, and an ever-changing lineup of drummers. Even in his early days Agata was loud, raucous, and fast, but his guitar playing was restricted to playing only written songs, so John Zorn, Jazz Saxophonist/avant garde composer/Tzadik Records owner gave him his own album, free to do whatever he wished. Spike is this album. This album is what Satriani and Malmsteen should've done years ago but were too afraid/stuck up to do. This album is not only different, it destroys and rebuilds the concept of solo guitar playing and completely obliterates the notion that the only guitarist worth listening to is a classically trained one. This album is simply amazing because it's one man, one guitar, and what must be over 30 effects pedals. As far as I know there are no overdubs on this. The sounds present are absolutely breathtaking, especially considering their origins. Water,elephants, bubbles, jet engines, saws, birds, monkeys, laserguns, feedback, turntables, wind and more all seem to flow out of Agata's guitar with ease and efficiency, creating a breathtaking, disorienting array of sound. This music is noisy and fast but the sheer intensity makes for an absolutley stunning listen. The guitar sounds are brutally smashed,beaten, and stretched into a kaleidoscopic catastrophe that demands your attention. As far as talent goes, this album has the bombast of Hendrix, the intensity of Dragonforce, the complexity of Vai, the ability to genre-jump like Buckethead, and the tap-dancing skills of Gene Kelly, yet it sounds like nothing like any of them. If you were to compare this to any artists the best comparisons would be a combination of Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Naked City, Otto Von Schirach, Robert Fripp, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Aphex Twin, Masonna, Ruins, Tangerine Dream, Ikue Mori, Painkiller, Frank Zappa, and Neu! but it still doesn't really sound like any of them at all. If you're a guitar purist (ie, you believe that there should be a limit on effects use, you believe in conventions such as melody, etc.) don't even bother listening to this album, as it will only anger you and confuse you. If you enjoy manic,fast paced, freeform music coupled with a fierce attack on rock tradition and arrogant virtuosos then this album is for you.


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