26 September 2023

The Elephants of Mars

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Joe Satriani, earMUSIC 2022.

The Elephants of Mars is the 19th studio album from legendary guitarist Joe Satriani, it’s also the first to appear on his new label earMUSIC.

The pandemic that caused so much angst for the music community actually worked for Joe Satriani because it gave him and his touring band time to record.

Of course, they had to do what a lot of other bands did and record remotely.

Joe’s band is dispersed in many parts of the world so the process of developing the album became one dominated by emails and computer files.

The guitarist challenged himself to set a ‘new standard’ for instrumental guitar albums, one that would be a benchmark for others, and himself, to measure their work against.

As he put it “I want to show people that an instrumental guitar album can contain far more creative and entertaining elements than I think people are using right now”.

It’s a statement that does sound a bit egotistical but if you are as good as Joe Satriani then it’s completely justifiable.

Joe and his band really pulled out the stops on this album.

They acknowledge that they explored some crazy ideas and tried to remain open-minded.

They entertained every notion from backwards recording to turning tapes upside-down just to see what would happen.

The result is quite amazing, from the gripping sci-fi madness of Through a Mother’s Day Darkly to the isolation of a decaying urban landscape in the first single Sahara, The Elephants of Mars crackles with energy leaving a sonic footprint as if a herd of elephants have stampeded across your mind.

I settled myself down on the floor with headphones on and lights off to let the music take me on a journey and the images flow.

It was a delightful experience.

Guitarists will devour this album, analysing it to discover its secrets, but you don’t have to be a player to let the music take you where it will.

You just have to really listen.

I find Joe Satriani instrumentals completely enthralling but they are certainly not recorded to be background music.

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