Buckethead

Colma

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For a guy who takes his sartorial cues from teenage horror flicks (he plays onstage with a weird sort of hockey mask on his face), Buckethead sure does make pretty music. It was not always thus -- his work with Praxis, for example, has often been pretty challenging. But on this solo project, on which he plays both guitar and bass and is helped out on all tracks by drummer Brain, the material is surprisingly pleasant, bordering at times on the banal. Titles like "Hills of Eternity" and "Wishing Well" are something of a giveaway -- though Brain's beats are fairly funky (and DJ Disc throws in a bit of far-off turntable scratching on a few tracks), these compositions are mostly pretty contemplative, occupying a space just one step away from the new age section. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but there are a couple of problems: the first is that Buckethead is a lousy bass player. Like many guitarists, he seems to think that playing bass is simply a matter of hitting the root of the chord on the downbeat of the measure. A real bassist could have contributed enormously to the proceedings (as Bill Laswell does in his guest turn on "Machete"). Another problem is the unimaginative production, which is overly soft and sweet. That said, "Big Sur Moon" is a cool solo guitar piece, and "Machete" really does cook. The rest is merely very pleasant.

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