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Engines of Creation

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Album Review

With Crystal Planet, Joe Satriani made an effective return to his signature sound following the erratic blues-rock detour of Joe Satriani. For the follow-up to Crystal Planet, Satriani is once again exploring novel territory in an effort to keep his music fresh, and Engines of Creation is the biggest stylistic shift he's made yet — to electronic music. Satriani's guitar is still the focal point of the music, to be sure, but while his virtuosity is obvious, it's often submerged in the new demands of this musical idiom. That isn't a surprise either, given that Satriani is one of the few guitar shredders whose taste and musicality have never been in question. But fans who simply want to hear him rip through his typical jaw-dropping solos may be disappointed (even though, in the end, there are more than a few solos), as will those guitar fans who reflexively disdain all sounds electronic. Having defended it, though, Engines of Creation isn't a total success. While the music is certainly influenced by techno and electronica, it probably won't appeal to listeners coming from those arenas; overall, it simply isn't as adventurous as much genuine electronica, avoiding complex backing rhythms or edgy sonic textures; nor is it as hypnotic, meandering or drifting aimlessly at times instead of moving into trancelike states of consciousness. Plus, Satriani's songs are often more traditional than they may seem upon first listen; many of the compositions are based on repeated themes and riffs and standard rock-song structures, switching between recurring, identifiable sections rather than gradually building and unfolding. However, the album can also be quite inventive. Satriani has challenged himself to find ways of coaxing totally new sounds from his guitar, and he weaves them seamlessly into the futuristic electronic soundscapes. Moreover, his melodies and main themes have rarely been this angular and off-kilter, meaning that exploring this music has indeed helped Satriani refresh and re-imagine his signature sound. Even the pieces that aren't ultimately that revolutionary are still intriguing, since very few musicians have the technical training and innate sense of musicality required to mine this territory. Overall, Engines of Creation is a brave and sporadically successful experiment, and it's also a promising new direction for Satriani should he choose to continue this vein of exploration and take it out even farther.

Customer Reviews

Best rock/electronic crossover album I've ever heard.

Combine Satchmo's guitar virtuosity with electronic music by some producer I've never heard of, and you'll probably expect a monstrous, repetitive, shallow mess. This is not the case here. They somehow manage to work together really well as a songwriting team and write an entire album filled with excellent songs. One of Satchmo's best albums. You can't go wrong downloading any of the first 5 tracks on this album, but if I had to pick a single standout I'd say get Borg Sex.

Bravo!!! A must listen...

This release is BY FAR my favorite of all Satch's CD's! On first listen (like 'Strange...') the music seems a little "out there"; however, on a second, third, fourth, infinity listen I found myself CONSTANTLY migrating to this CD out of his collection (and I have them ALL). I've found that this and 'Crystal Planet' are best listened to in shuffle/tandem to appreciate what Joe was going for during this stage of his development (and all good musicians are constantly developing). TERRIFIC release!

Ended up being my favorite

I absolutely hated this album when it was released. But after giving it some time (due to Until We Say Goodbye being so good that I would just put the disc in and let it roll), it became a favorite of mine. Years later, this is the only Satch album I keep,coming back to. I've bought it three times, and am contemplating getting it again. Just something about it. Great album.


Born: July 15, 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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