Box, Edward - Plectrumhead

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC2231 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:44:00

Emerging from a number of relatively unsuccessful group projects, English guitarist Edward Box has embarked on a solo career. If his debut Plectrumhead is anything to go by, it was a mighty fine decision, and one I'm pleased to have a copy of the fruits thereof.

Reminding me of nobody so much as Jason Becker, Box's writing style is technically complex, but not in an attention-grabbing, pretentious way. Rather the music seems almost casual about its complexity. It first catches the ear simply because they're great pieces, catchy and well-written; the intricacy of the playing comes to one's notice secondarily. Because of this, it's far more easily-listenable than most instrumental prog I've heard. It's still technical wankery, but it's highly accessible technical wankery. I can appreciate this.

Another thing which makes the album easily-accessible is its length. One problem I've always had with instrumental prog is that, while I may love the albums I have from bands like Liquid Tension Experiment, Planet X or Djam Karet, actually listening to the full disc in one sitting is hard going. Not so Plectrumhead; Box has wisely kept the album length down under 45 minutes, and the individual songs are relatively short and sweet also. This makes it a pleasant listen, musically impressive but not mentally exhausting, and he ensures that one isn't tired of his work before reaching the end of the album.

The opener and title track gets straight to the point, up-tempo, chromatic and grooving. Underlying this piece - and many of those to come - is a certain playfulness, a joy in simply playing. I get the impression that Ed plays the guitar in the same spirit as Pavarotti might sing in the shower. He's the one who's enjoying it, he knows he's great at it, and anyone listening can love it or not as they please. Following on from this are a well-balanced mix of styles - slow, fast, jive, groove, metal, acoustic, and so on - that keeps the listener interested. My favourite track on the album is the jiving "130R"; if anyone can listen to this piece without feeling inspired to air-guitar, they're a stronger person than I. I've also become very fond of the sexy bump'n'grinder "Five Knuckle Shuffle," and the soulful love-song "So Glad."

So my verdict is a definite yes. Even those who haven't previously liked much pure instrumental prog might be well-advised to give this a listen, for as I've described, Plectrumhead is a very easy album to get into. I know I've enjoyed it, and will continue to do so.

Similar to: Jason Becker, Joe Satriani

[This review originally appeared August 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Plectrumhead / Closer / Blues Skies Above / Stratosphere / 130R / Frequencies / Reflections / Five Knuckle Shuffle / Assegai / So Glad / Reqiuem / Bone Cutter

Edward Box - guitar

Plectrumhead (2003)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin UK

Added: December 12th 2004
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 1035
Language: english


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