SOUND THEORIES: REVIEW THREAD

This is the forum for all Steve Vai-related discussion including Steve's albums, videos, performances and frequently asked questions.
Masi
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Vol II: Shadows & Sparks is what some of us (I'm sure!) have been waiting for for years. Since Flexable and PAW one could hear that the composer had something just waiting to come out and this is the realization of that spark of expectation that he ignited in us. What Steve has taken from Zappa is here reflected through the prism of his own mature, unique, spiritual self. A potrait of a truly humble composer, who gives kudos and prtaise to those who have helped realize his vision. (The record feels like a trun band effort.) The decision not to play guitar on vol. II is one of immense fortitude. For the first time Vai's music speaks volumes without his most reqognizeable (to the general public) strengths carrying the load. This is the final proof that he is not a mere virtuoso, he is a true Artist.
I can not communicate what it means to have heard this cd and how it makes me well up with emotion that I have the possibility to listen to this music again and again...I feel so lucky!
Varesse, Zappa, Vai.
Love, Devotion, Surrender.
:D
This is gargantuan.
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prman
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Masi wrote:Vol II: Shadows & Sparks is what some of us (I'm sure!) have been waiting for for years. Since Flexable and PAW one could hear that the composer had something just waiting to come out and this is the realization of that spark of expectation that he ignited in us. What Steve has taken from Zappa is here reflected through the prism of his own mature, unique, spiritual self. A potrait of a truly humble composer, who gives kudos and prtaise to those who have helped realize his vision. The decision not to play guitar on vol. II is one of immense fortitude. For the first time Vai's music speaks volumes without his most reqognizeable (to the general public) strengths carrying the load. This is the final proof that he is not a mere virtuoso, he is a true Artist.
Well spoken, brother! :D
Jet444
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Hey all!
I got the CD today and listened to it at home with the stereo blasting!
Vol 1 - Absolutely amazing! Unlike most people here I haven't ever heard those recordings before from that online radio place because I can't access it with our internet. I absolutely loved every moment of it! Even though they are redone versions of Steve's earlier songs I view them as more than just different versions of the same song. Take for instance "Gentle Ways." Man, the recorded version of that song is so touching, emotional, sensitive and perfect in every way. But then the version on "The Aching Hunger" enabled me to see it in an entirely different light. Especially when there were little tweaks made to the rhythm and chord progressions. Made me want to cry with happiness...:D
I think I started laughing when I heard "The Attitude Song." Again, allowed me to see the song in a completely different light. And what a kick-ass light that was! "Liberty" and "Answers" were also some big favourites for me, but overall I just loved everything on the disk!
Vol 2 - What can I say but Wow! I can see how alot of people might not like the music on this as much, especially since we're all used to Vai the Composer of great guitar instrumentals but we're not yet used to Vai the composer, full-stop. I quite enjoyed alot of this music. After a couple listems I will enjoy it even more! All I can say right now is now I'm glad I listened non-stop to alot of Gershwin's music! :D
Overall an awesome CD Steve and I can't wait to see how his composing evolves and develops.
Jet :D
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Masi wrote:Vol II: Shadows & Sparks is what some of us (I'm sure!) have been waiting for for years.
Absolutely. Count me in for that !
Masi wrote: The decision not to play guitar on vol. II is one of immense fortitude. For the first time Vai's music speaks volumes without his most reqognizeable (to the general public) strengths carrying the load.
Yes. But don't forget that there was no guitar either on "Piano reductions Vol. 1". That album also has a "Vai the composer" feeling to it.
Booligan
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just ordered my copy. it should arrive on tuesday :)
Entheogen
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Okay, so I got the records and I let them soak in for a couple days. My final review (and don't kill me)- ehh.

The orchestrated Vai favorites would have sounded better without, dare I say it, the guitar; it would have been interesting to hear the whole piece in a fresh light, not just the background music. The song selection got on my nerves as well- we couldn't have fit some songs in out of complete left field? How about "Blue Powder" or "I Would Love To," or "Touching Tongues" or "The Fire Garden Suite?"

Some of the songs were very cool, however, and will gown as my favorite versions of them (I'm talking to you, "Answers" and "The Attitude Song"), but others, I didn't like. I really didn't see (don't kill me once more) the seventh song mastery that "I'm Becoming" was made out to be. It was only 2 minutes of Steve fiddling around on has clean channel with his whammy and sustainer, for crying out loud! There wasn't even an orchestra backing him for that one! I wanted a new seventh song that would be the most majestic, grandiose piece in Steve's catalog, unfettered by the chains of a normal band and released into the stratosphere because of the orchestra. In a couple words, why not "Lotus Feet?"

The second album, Shadows and Sparks, was interesting, and I liked hearing the references to past pieces, but the compositions themselves didn't do much for me. Don't get me wrong, I like orchestral music (Vivaldi and Wagner are in the top of heap, as far as I am concerned), but Vai's stuff is always so rich with interesting melodies and chord structures and rhythms that all marry together to make beautiful music, that the orchestral side of him should have come out of his shell more. I mean, a march? It sounds as though Vai was listening to too much Zappa when composing.

I know these are minor complaints (for the most part), but my hopes for the DVD are a little dashed. I'll still listen to it, but it appears my expectations were higher than the released product. Don't kill me!

Evan Riddell
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I think it rocks.

Then again, I'm biased as Hellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

My favorites I think are "The Attitude Song" (because it's so outrageous), Helios & Vesta, "FTLOG" (once again, I'm biased), the 2nd part of "Frangelica" (what amazing melodies!), "Shadows" (which is sheer brilliance, especially since it's no longer called "Is it Over Yet?" ^_^ There weren't enough left-fielders in that piece for you, Evan?), and of course the completely and utterly ridiculously awesome version of "Bledsoe Bluvd" which came out so great it makes me giggle.

Personally, I prefer the second disc to the first, but there's so much great music everywhere and the SOUND is amazing! I've been blasting down the highway listening to it this past week and you can really hear everything! They did a good job mixing & mastering this monster.

Also, although it's similar in theme to Zappa's "Yellow Shark," I don't think Steve's music really sounds like Frank's at all (except maybe for Bledsoe). Steve is a much different person than Frank was, so wouldn't logic dictate that his music be much different as well?

And that's what I have to say about that. ^_^

Mr. Oppy
Masi
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Masi wrote: The decision not to play guitar on vol. II is one of immense fortitude. For the first time Vai's music speaks volumes without his most reqognizeable (to the general public) strengths carrying the load.
Yes. But don't forget that there was no guitar either on "Piano reductions Vol. 1". That album also has a "Vai the composer" feeling to it.[/quote]

I agree with you there, it has the composer feel, but the feel is also that of "reductions". This is the full blown experience. Kind of like the difference between a love letter and a hot date. :D
kurtavaiguy
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I remember the phrase Frank Zappa used: "The Present Day Composer refuses to Die!"

With respect to Steve Vai, it's absolutely true.

Sound Theories, like Real Illusions, is one of the few contemporary albums that bring tears to these boomers' eyes. A very pleasing mix of contemplative playing and very intense, intricate works that has me 120% agreeing with the more enthusiastic posters here.
Last edited by kurtavaiguy on Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Lumiform
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I am truly in awe of the new album. I am blown away by just about every aspect of it... so much so that I am almost completely at a loss for words.
Steve, I've never doubted your guitar virtuosity, but I am completely astounded by your mastery of theory and the depth/breadth of your musical vision. Truly astounding. It is truly awe-inspiring to see someone who has not only been GIVEN such amazing gifts and talents, but one who has USED them and DEVELOPED them through discipline and suffering. One can see just how COMPLETELY you have invested yourself in this music. Now, as never before, I feel that I have HEARD Steve Vai. Thank you for sharing yourself and putting in the YEARS of work, discipline, toil, sweat, tears, and complete investment. This album is truly the product of a LIFE lived and invested in following the dream and the path of such a huge and amazing gift of talent and vision.

In my humble, and admittedly less than completely knowledgeable, opinion... disc 2 FAR outweighs disc 1 in its scope, majesty, vision, production, and sheer AUDACITY.

PLEASE - keep it up. Never stop following the dreams and visions that your very real talents have led you towards. You have been given a gift that, even if I had been given it, would have lain dormant and un-used in another. Please never cease striving.

Ok

Love and peace,
nathan

P.S.
I'm no less in awe of the fact that there was a little pink strip in my CD case... I'll be meeting you soon Steve!!!! Hopefully a little bit of encouragement and true appreciation will be sent your way when I meet you!
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pjaydee
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Ok i have my copy, as soon as it landed on the mat from amazon i rushed upstairs to put this in the CD player. One word review...WOW! I totally love everything on this album, the arrangement is mind blowing and just shows us that Steve is a diverse and experimental musician, the chameleon like qualities of this album are fantastic.

Excellent stuff from a man who continues to evolve as a virtuoso and cares about music first! Frangelica pt 2....shivers down the spine...awesome!! People must and im sure they do realise that Steve is a musician that cant be contained to one genre of music, just enjoy the talents of this composer and you will reap the rewards.

Talent does what it can genius does what it must!
Thx Steve.
sotajumala
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I am amazed, compelatly.
When I started to listen the record, I just couldn't find any words to describe it. I just stood my mouth open.
This is almost best or not the best orchestral recording that I have ever heard.

I just bursted to tears while listening 'for the love of god'.

I'm speachles. Woah.

Thank you for this, seriously thank you.
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tony2500ie
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Wow wow wow....

I just got it last night (yeah I know a bit late for a true Vai fan but I have been traveling for work, what ya gonna do!!).

So - I stayed up most of last nite listening over and over !!

I think it amazing !!! - will comment more when I can get my head around it all..

A must have for anyone who enjoys music !!
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BoonDog
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jenarom wrote:I'm reposting my original review from the other thread....


OK, after a few listens I've to say I'm pretty excited about this release and for what could come next in these series.

What I regret is that there was almost nothing new for me, because I had already listened to the NPS webcasts. It's like what happened to me with the new Star Wars films, I had read all the spoilers before the movies came out.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Murder, Answers, Gentle Ways, the amazing version of For The Love Of God, and specially Salamanders In The Sun. Salamanders just sounds beautiful with this orchestration.

I'm Becoming is such a sweet piece that left me wanting more, a lot more. It is beautiful, simple, heart-felt, but sadly too short for me. I wanted 10 more minutes of this! :wink: I'm adding it to my 7th Song playlist on my ipod.

Now, for the part I was most expecting: Volume II.

In Shadows I loved the little orchestrations of pieces like Lucky Charms, Whispering a Prayer and the Fire Garden Suite (Bangkok). I started to imagine these 3 pieces in full orchestration. I hope Steve tries this.

Violin solo in Sparks was nice, but for me, Frangelica Part 2 is my favourite. This is a piece where I can clearly identify Steve Vai in the notes. I think that if I had listened to this piece somewhere else for the first time without knowing anything, I would've been like crazy wondering how this composer was influenced by Steve Vai. :)

I also liked Helios and Vesta a lot, but Bledsoe Bluvd., which was another nice surprise like Salamanders, I think I need more listens to fully take in all the details within this complex piece.

One thing I was thinking last night is that Lotus Feet should've been the 7th song for this volume. In my humble opinion, I think it deserves to be here more than in Real Illusions. I will add it as a bonus track on my ipod. :D

I also remember from the 2004 shows pieces like Memories of a Silent Rose, Reflections and Theadolite. I wonder what happened to them. Maybe on the DVD, maybe not. Ballerina could've also been on Volume I.

Speaking of the DVD, when will it be released?

On another note, did you guys noticed that somebody classified Volume II as "Unclassifiable" in the Genre field on iTunes? That left me wondering how would you classify this kind of music? How does Steve classifies it?

One last note: I'm also contemplating with great expectation the new tour. I think I will have to fly to the US this time because it's going to be an out of this world experience.

Well, that's enough. Thanks for reading!

I utterly agree with your analysis. Full stop.

The T shirt is cool.

Regards

Boondog.
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Dear Steve,

after hearing this amazing music performed and reading about your incredible, and at the same time horrible editing process, :shock: I'm thinking "How the Hell can we - the fans - repay you?". It's impossible! If the cost of a CD would correspond to the amount of time and effort the artist has put in, this baby would cost a fortune!!!

However, we do pay you in terms of deep respect, love and devotion - I hope that's something! :roll:

I really admire you and your hearty devotion to Music (as an art form), your endless patience, and how you make your dreams come true.

You manage to bring to life, what most people would consider impossible and turn down even before they give it another thought.

Thank you so much!

Warm regards,

Veye :)
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