Joe McGurk - Elements

(CD 2015, 42:50, Lion Music)

The tracks:
  1- Wind (The Calming Violence)(8:13)
  2- Fire (The Pain and Beauty)(5:17)
  3- Water (The Graceful Stranger)(3:39)
  4- Earth (The Aging Wisdom)(6:03)
  5- Elements (For Guitar and Orchestra)(5:54)
  6- Movement II: Requiem / Lacrymosa(7:08)
  7- Movement III: Grand Finale(6:34)

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In a land far away, a long time ago, fabulous, passionate people started to create high quality music that very much differed from the traditional music for the common man. What we now call Classical music was born. Skip a few centuries or so and an innovator stood up, an innovator who brought electricity to classical music. Yngwie Malmsteen was the name of this boy wonder and I guess the whole neo classical guitar scene basically started with his Rising Force album in 1984. Over the years this scene brought us wonderful albums, mostly instrumental and neo classical shred masters gained a lot of fame.

Now years have passed and a lone neo classical shedder takes us back twenty five years; Joe McGurk is his name. A very talented guitarist who, like pure neoclassical shredders like Mike Batio (Michael Angelo) and George Bellas knows how to embed fabulous guitar sounds into slightly dated music. Elements is a pure guitar album, where Joe only is assisted by drummer Kevin Deplanche. Everything else you hear is Joe. The compositions sometimes vaguely remind me of the mighty Cacophony, with Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, but never even getting close to those two heroes. Other times the music is theatrical with an acoustic guitar, here the classical side of Joe moves towards John Williams' more accessible music (the trilogy Elements, which covers the final three songs of the album). Elements sees a lot of soloing; fast and furious, like in Earth, Wind and Fire. So furious, he sometimes loses himself in meaningless speeding.

If you are a classical guitar aficionado, you will certainly like parts of Joe's music and for a shred fan, there is also much to your liking on this album. If you like both, you have found yourself a new guitar player to listen to. For myself the music is too dated and like most of the guitarists that have played in the genre, I have moved on to music with progressive and fusion elements.

*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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