Wow. This is a pretty amazing historical find. These are home recordings of Buckethead made just before his career-changing trip to Company Week in 1991. They're all performed strictly on acoustic guitar in a very informal setting at a friend's house. Some of the pieces are full-fledged songs (a couple of which appeared on later albums), while others are a bit rougher and sound more like trying out ideas than playing a tune. Even so, his talent is astounding. There are beautiful chordal pieces like "For Mom," "Who Me?," and "Longing." "Spirals" is a tapping tour de force while "Ghosts Upstairs" goes from pretty chords to tapping to funk-style pop and slap. "Serape" has a vaguely Spanish sound. The lengthy "Thugs" sounds like he's just trying out some ideas and new techniques. The informal nature of the recordings is evident in that some songs have a TV or movie playing way in the background, and on "Who Me?" there's an audible "oops." He also sneaks in some quotes from other songs, like the "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" quote in "Little Gracie" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in "Dinging/Ah-Ji-Jee." It's an interesting glimpse of Buckethead early on in his career, and shows him to be an insanely talented player without the use of effects or even electricity. Buckethead is certainly best known for his pyrotechnic electric playing and over the top metal tendencies, but albums like Colma and Electric Tears have highlighted the prettier side of his playing. Acoustic Shards is more of a piece with those albums, but also proves that he can shred without even plugging in.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard