ALEX MASI is something of a household name amongst those who follow guitarists who transitioned out of 80s Heavy Metal into Progressive Shred work later on, ergo the people who really go for MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO. He doesn’t quite go into the gratuitously technical realms that the former NITRO guitarist has been prone to, but he does have a similar sense of his roots when it comes to how he works his own playing within the various styles he experiments with. And this is particularly apparent in the case of his latest offering “The Theory Of Everything”, which brings whole new meaning to the concept of a mixed bag.
In much the same fashion as JENNIFER BATTEN did a couple years ago with “Whatever”, MASI has essentially tackled the daunting yet enticing realm of world music, essentially attempting to hit every possible genre under the sun and marry it to his signature style of playing. Where he tends to do a bit better than his American female rival is that he doesn’t really go into some of the more outlandish fits of genre bending that she did, and also avoids overdoing the voice samples. Most of the music on here is melodic and at least marginally easy to follow, rather than quirky and all over the place.
Nevertheless, this album definitely gets pretty daring with its exploration of hybrid styles. “Ladies Of The House”, in addition to being somewhat risqué in its voice sampling, does quite well in fusing together middle eastern influences (featuring a principle guitar riff that is somewhat akin to BLACK SABBATH’S “The Wizard) and a smooth flowing jazz ballad. “Big Bad Science” explores a rather odd combination of Avant-garde percussion and dance music with a fairly frenetic and fancy Hard Rock sound. But the one that really takes the cake is the hybrid of African tribal drums and a funky sounding guitar attack loaded with happy-go-lucky Blues leads.
This is essentially fodder for the more unique tastes that constitute a minority in progressive instrumental circles. It’s possible that fans of STEVE VAI’S weirder sounding albums, or perhaps JENNIFER BATTEN’S “Whatever”, which I can’t help but keep comparing this to, will go for this. But the biggest enemy that this album has is not any flaw in the musical performance or MASI’S approach to composing, but the smallness of the audience that tends to go for this stuff. Nevertheless, this is a good album to check out if you like style mixing and really fancy guitar playing.
(Online January 22, 2011)