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Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards

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Album Review

Apparently his time in Chickenfoot made Joe Satriani want to get back to where he once belonged, so he goes retro on 2010’s Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. About as far away from the heavy-footed party rock of Chickenfoot as possible, Black Swans is pure guitar prog, filled with compressed boogies, sci-fi synths, exotic flourishes, and all of Satch’s phasers and flangers in full-tilt overdrive. Often, it feels like a throwback to the glory days of Surfing with the Alien, but there are crucial differences and they're not subtle, either. First off, Satriani’s rock doesn’t rock so hard — when the tempo is a little faster or when a song is built on riffs, not melody, it’s for a change in color, so nothing on Black Swans plays aggressively. Furthermore, the album lingers instead of pushes, Satriani setting the tone with long legato melodies and solos with plenty of pauses. As such, it’s not a record that will tear your head off but rather a record to appreciate for its contours and textures, a mature work from one of the great rock guitarists.


Born: 15 July 1956 in Westbury, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The 1980s were a golden age for guitar heroes but even six-string slingers need a hero of their own. Enter Joe Satriani. More than a hero, Satriani was a mentor, setting an example of what could be done with the instrument and also serving as a teacher to such luminaries as Kirk Hammett, Charlie Hunter, Primus' Larry LaLonde, and Steve Vai. This alone makes Satriani a significant figure in the history of rock guitar, but when he launched a career as a recording artist in 1986, he performed the rare...
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