Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top 10 Instrumental Albums of 2012

There were loads of instrumental albums that were released this year. Some really guitarded ones, some displayed top notch musicianship and some that didn’t live up to the expectations of the fans. As 2012 wraps up, I write this article presenting my list of top 10 instrumental albums that were released this year. You may notice a few albums with vocals have been included, that is because only a partial number of tracks have vocals, not the whole album.

10) Farzad Golpayegani - Six:

Farzad is an extremely skilled and talented musician from Iran. He names his albums and songs corresponding to their releases. Like his sixth album is titled “Six”. He is very underrated for the musician he is! The album completely has an Eastern vibe to it with a lot of orchestration\keys. Noodling more around the harmonic minor side. Farzad’s technique is perfect, wish I could learn from him. The album could have been higher on the list if only the songs were a little more different from each other with some diversity. But yes this album does deserve a spot on this list, and also a place in a guitarist’s CD collection.

OK I had a tie for the 9th position between two albums and it was impossible to decide just one among the two.

9 A.) Eloy Oliveria – Burn in Flames :

I found him through a guitar website and man, I was blown away when I heard his album! Pretty much sticking around the neo-classical style. He has some great chops and techniques and the album is a treat for all neo-classical fans, you don’t get to hear much of this today. The album is definitely worth the buy!

9 B.) Mr. Fastfinger(Mika Tyyskä) – In Motion :

I believe this album was made with a concept in mind and it projects clearly as you listen to the album. I’ve been following his music and he has some INSANE chops! Never guitar dual with him!

This is a very captivating instrumental album in which the ambience is greatly emphasized. This album is musically unique and makes you picture things and concepts as well, puts the listener into the realm of the concept as the character travels unknown lands, battles dark forces etc while displaying some insane licks and balancing the melody at the same time.

A guitarist or musically inclined person should definitely have this album in his collection.

8) Joe Stump – Revenge of the Shredlord :

Yes, the Shredlord definitely got his revenge through this album! This album is as shreddy as it can get! Most of them claim to be reminded of Yngwie while hearing this album. I don’t agree with that. Every guitarist does pick up influences with his signature style as well, includes Joe. Some excellent neo-classical licks and riffs of force dominate the album along with some serious chops that would make you go “hellyeah”. I absolutely loved the album!

7) Paul Gilbert – Vibrato :

Ok so Paul put out a VERY surprising album this year by stepping out of his stylistic comfort zone, with diligence, of course. This album is nothing like his previous releases at all! Jazz Fusion, 70s funk, mixing rock, jazz and Broadway musical, some groovy blues while retaining his technical side, not to forget 3 interesting covers, that’s pretty much the album. There were places where you could identify his signature chops and techniques. I love the vocals on this album(Not every track has vocals). Paul, you never disappoint, not even when you change your style! I must say, his wife Emi did a fabulous work with the keyboards. This album has far more song writing and emotional content as opposed to his very technical albums. Take a bow, dude.

6) The Crane and Fabian Project - No Limits :

Frank Gambale , Scott Henderson, Alex Acuna , Luis Conte, Eric Marienrhal , Mike Miller, James Hogan, Christian Fabian, Mitch Forman ,Steve Hunt ,Lance Crane. The line-up itself tells you that the album will definitely be on this list!

The Crane & Fabian project started out as a collaboration between bassist/composer/arranger Christian Fabian and award-winning producer/drummer Lance Crane. The album No Limits pumps up the classic percussion and shredding guitar sounds of Return to Forever, the Chick Corea Electric band and Tribal Tech with duelling guitars. You could listen to this album whole day and sip on some wine or jam to it! Quality jazz music!

5) Jeff Loomis - Plains of Oblivion :

The Loominator put out a smashing album this year! His approach towards the album was opposed to that of his previous album in many ways and he not only lived up to the expectations of his fans but also exceeded them. This album is even more melodic, even faster and even more mature than his previous works although I’m more emotionally attached to Zero Order Phase. The album has insanely fast tracks with some super fast shredding, tracks with vocals (mellow and fast) featuring Christine Rhoades who did an exceptional work on it and an acoustic track. The album also offers some insane drums and bass as well, Dirk Verbeuren and Shane Lentz really kill it! The album also features a handful of renown guests. He even experimented with other instruments heard on the album.

4) Marco Sfogli – reMarcoble :

I must say, the Italian maestro put out a stellar album this year! Featuring 11 songs ranging from the blistering metal off the album title track 'reMarcoble' through to the chilled acoustic 'Song of Ben and C' this album takes you on a journey of pure guitar playing musical brilliance. This album offers some insane techniques, very melodic playing and some intense shredding at the same time, a touch of jazz and some great saxophones in a track! Very well produced, the guitar tones are amazing.

A lot of soft moments in the album with really strong guitar work will leave you wanting for more.This album is on continuous repeat, even as I type!

3) Marty Friedman – Tokyo Jukebox II :

“Melody no Kamisama” or The King of Melody came out with another album like his previous album consisting J-pop covers, covers of artists like Sakamoto Fuyumi, AKB48, Yutaka Ozaki etc . This album definitely has to be the most melodic album I’ve ever heard. Marty-san really does justice to the covers he played. This album also has various unique styles to offer. Like a Japanese instrument KOTO and a guitar duet on a classic cover, some really great melodies over mellow club upbeats and same insane shredding here and there on crazy riffs, a handful of them played by Keshav Dhar who appears as a guest. A listener will easily emotionally attach himself with this album. Marty never disappoints.

2) Jason Becker – Boy Meets Guitar :

Ok, picture this. Tracks written by a 15\16 year old by around 1984 compiling an album that features on the top 10 instrumental albums of 2012! YES, this album consists of tracks written by Jason Becker when he was 15\16 years old! An incredible album which will put you down and make you think “I couldn’t play like this when I was 15” or maybe “I’m way older than 15 and I still can’t play like this”. The tracks really show the origin of the signature Becker-esque playing and some really great classical pieces and covers. I cannot comprehend the greatness that his music would touch if ALS had not disabled him.

1) The Pitts Minnemann Project – 2 L 8 2 B Normal :

Spastick Ink meets Funk meets Jazz meets cartoon shred meets a truckload of quality musicians. This album is beyond flawless! Jimmy Pitts and Marco Minnemann’s project features top notch music, fresh techniques, amazing abilities, everything that would amaze a musician and listeners alike.

TWENTY SEVEN(yes) tracks ranging from slow jazz melodies to something you’ve never heard to “Violent Wankery” as one of their songs claim. I think this album hasn’t really got the attention it deserves. Some serious Fusion\Prog and really great jams that lift this album to the title of the best instrumental album of 2012!


Cloudkicker - Fade

Kiko Loureiro – Sounds of Innocence

Yngwie Malmsteen – Spellbound(Great album but seriously nothing different from his old stuff AT ALL, could have made the list. Could have.)

OHM – Tsunami Jams

Steve Vai – Story of Light

If you’re wondering where’s Slash and Eddie Van Halen’s albums, those would dominate the solo albums with vocals list!

Article By,
Mayur Aggarwal