on 28 September 2012
It's always an exciting event when Steve Vai releases a new album. It's been so long since his last studio record (Real Illusions) that I pre-ordered this album. It comes with an extra DVD which I thought was going to be the usual promo fluff, but is in fact a beautifully presented documentary that goes in depth discussing the songs on the album.
Vai has certainly become more experimental, which can divide opinion amongst old fans. Personally I think this album balances immediately accessible tracks with more off the wall material very effectively. I was totally blown away by John The Revalator. I know Steve sometimes finds blues a little too simplistic, but I'm so glad he was inspired to create this heavy, rocking, surprising cover. On the whole, the melodies on the album are more complex than on earlier records like Fire Garden, but the more you listen to it the better it gets. As always, there is A LOT going on and multiple listens reveal the many layers in each song.
The further mainstream pop goes down the Bieber route, the more grateful I am to genuine artists like Steve Vai who a) have talent and b) something interesting to say.
I have to admit that it took me a while to jump in and put in an order for "The Story Of Light" simply because whilst I admire and appreciate this exceptional musician, some of his recent output has been a little hit and miss and coming nowhere near the eclectic delights of his early studio albums. But, this is a return to form and with a bang! Not for many a year have I put an album into my player by Mr Vai that has had my jaw drop through the floor and the hackles rise on the back of my neck but this offering is near to bloody perfection as it gets...especially when played LOUD! It is all here, blues/rock/jazz even down to a choir - which on "John The Revelator" a notable traditional style blues number and "Book Of The Seven Seals" a rather wicked gospel outing, these songs fairly explode out of your speakers!
But it doesn't stop there! Oh no! We have acoustic delights and electric guitar played with the soaring heights of an angel and low down and dirty, smacking you rather hard in the solar plexus region with "Creamsickle Sunset", "Gravity Storm", "The Moon And I" and "No More Amsterdam" among the highlights. Certainly, within the 12 tracks here, not a single duffer that you feel the need to skip and it's been too long since I've been able to say that about an SV album!
If you, like me, have held back on purchasing this album because of the inconsistency of recent Vai offerings, just jump in and immerse yourself in the wonderful musical world of this stunning musician - The Story Of Light will leave you with a great big satisfied grin upon your face!
on 10 September 2012
From David Lee Roth to Whitesnake and from Passion And Warfare to Real Illusions : Reflections, I have always been a true and loyal fan of Vai. I grabbed this CD at once. Because anything Steve does, I love it. How he makes the guitar scream and cry. The melody from the heart of Jem. The whammy bar. The tone. Gonna see him on the tour for the third time this December.
Real Illusions : Reflections is the first album of the trilogy series that Steve started seven years ago which is fantastic indeed loaded with Building The Church, Glorious, K'm Pee Du We, Freak Show Express and Lotus Feet. The Story Of Light is sequel to that. Long wait. I expected it to be better. But more or less it's the same.
The first track 'The Story Of Light' is a good album opener which I feel like it picks up from Under It All, the end track from Real Illusions : Reflections. 'Velorum' and 'Gravity Storm' are two Bad Horsies in the album. Both being my most favourite head banging stuffs. 'Racing The World' gives Fever Dream and rocks me on the road. 'Creamsicle Sunset' is a cool soothing like a lullaby that almost put me to sleep. I've never had enough of seventh songs and he delivers one here too - 'Mullach A'tSi' which tells me so much of Whispering A Prayer. Beautiful ! 'Weeping China Doll' is another slow and heavy and I like it. Oh ! How I wish David Lee Roth would join and sing on 'Sunshine Electric Raindrops'. It would be great. My favourite VaiTunes #2 'The Moon And I' is also included in the album. 'No More Amsterdam' is Steve's duet singing with Aimee Mann (never heard before). Not bad for sentimental stuff. Sorry to say that 'John The Revelator' and 'Book Of The Seven Seals' (remix of an old song) maybe good but are my least favourite. Better off as VaiTunes? Don't know. Beverly McClellan (never heard before), the winner of the voice contest so they say, does the vocal job on these two. Good to still have Dave Weiner on rhythm guitars and Jeremy Colson on drums. Philip Bynoe (remember G3 : Live In Concert?) is back on bass. Yeah!
This copy that I pre-ordered from Amazon is so-called Digibook which comes in book kind of thing. 32 pages of photos, liner notes with song by song breakdowns and bonus DVD with exclusive Steve Vai interview. Feels great to hold it in hand and go along page by page with the music. Very beautiful.
I have played this album many times now. It's grown on me. As I said, I love anything Steve Vai does. So my review here will be bias for this album. Listen to it and know for yourself if it's good or bad. I am stuck between 4 and 5 stars. Maybe my expectations were too high. The final in the trilogy series, Steve knows what and when and how, will be better I hope. It will be the best of all. It will give us another For The Love Of God, Sisters, Juice, Die To Live, Tender Surrender, Whispering A Prayer and more. Just can't get enough of Vai.
Rock 'N' Roll \,,/,
on 24 January 2013
I bought it because I have everything else but I find it a bit forgettable which is a shame. Nothing really wrong with it but thats all I can say. I bought the version with the DVD.. don't bother, It made me squirm listening to the things he said. I saw him play in Manchester on the same tour and he used the same script I think!
Vai spreads his compositional wings in many intriguing directions on his latest rock album of instrumentals and songs. Blues, Gospel, Satriani, Zappa, but mostly Vai. And his guitar playing has matured, become more emotional and nuanced which even feeds into the heavier tracks. But there's still plenty of musical shredding to be thrilled by.
Sounds as though what he learned from working out the uilleann-pipe-inflected Whispering A Prayer has seeped into his playing more broadly. Gorgeous!
on 25 May 2014
Astonishing, awe-inspiring, cinematic, bitter-sweet, intense, poetic, fun, and whimsical.
As soon as I heard this album, I was sitting down in a coffee shop as I recall, it totally sent me to a different place entirely. It reminded me of why I was inexplicably drawn to Steve's music in the first place, and why I consider him to be not only a great guitarist, but an under-appreciated contemporary composer of the very highest order.
I consider this album to be among his very best, along with the likes of Fire Garden and P&W. He has moved on from the advanced guitar pyrotechnics (though they are still there only more constrained and subtle) and has utilised and cultivated his playing style to paint a story with every melody. Whilst some guitarists fall back on chops and musical rhetoric, Steve has now reached a point in his playing where, from as far as I can hear, he has tried to do away with the unnecessary 'fluff' and baggage of rock guitar idioms and instead honed in on what aspects of his playing best express his inner voice, and best paint the soundscape he is trying to actualise.
To put it simply, I like it, and it inspires me to create. What more can you ask for?
on 15 August 2015
Steve said he tried very hard not to sound like Joe Satriani but I think the album would have been better if he did. None of the tracks have his old magic. If you are going to bring out an album every few years then it needs to be better than this.
on 12 January 2014
1) The Music. From the 'in the frame' -drum comp and the 'space flight' -guitars of the first piece and its naively Russian narration, the recording offers best Vai since 'Sex & Religion'. Being far better than the preceding half-good recording 'Real Illusions', this is at last a Steve Vai album that you can listen to the end - without skipping anything. There is no sign of the total lack of imagination of 'Fire Garden', actually I think that Vai has gotten closest to the mood of 'Passion & Warfare' here. Guitars from a piece like 'No More Amsterdam' remind greatly of the world of 'Sisters', whereas compositions 'Creamsickle Sunset' and the heavily 'Spanish Castle'-ish 'Gravity Storm' liken to the best: Hendrix. Some songs are a bit too light in composition [e.g. 'Mullach A'tsí', 'Book of the Seven Seals'], but still somehow fit the mood. It is clear that the diggers of 'Fire Garden' likely don't consider this recording as "likeable", but you shouldn't settle for less than the complex and progressive, when judging Steve Vai's musical efforts.
2) The Philosophy. Vai tries to impose some kind of philosophical character to many of the recordings he does. The programmatic concept behind these last two records now starts to make sense: there is a point of existential philosophy under the naive and awkward story. The substance is straight Hinduism/Buddhism put into popular words, but sadly with shades of a-moral Taoist relativism. In this rock-context: if you are have never tried and tested 'Vai the philosopher', give him a chance! If you're able to skip the insignificant details you might gain some insight into your life [the added DVD gives valuable insight into the life of _Steve Vai_], possibly with the happy conclusion that you have to search further for yourself. Even if you had delved deep in the Eastern mysticism, you should make justice to Vai's effort of giving something of an extramusical value to you by giving a thought to his basic existential concepts. The only thing I see he's _possibly_ added to the Indian/Chinese philosophy is the concept of 'the Light'. You could take this 'Story of Light' as an introduction to the basics of Eastern thought, or then - as a _Vai-story of 'the Light'_!
3) The Production. The sound-world is rather honed and "produced", but not actually bad. The production level doesn't quite fit songs like 'John The Revelator', but in 'Weeping China Doll' the heavy metal-ish production concept is rather fitting. The most important thing, Vai's guitar, however, is full of life and tonal variety. The drums don't sound nearly as good as Chris Frazier's, but this recording comes closest to Passion & Warfare with e.g. C. F. and Stu Hamm, who were most likely the two best musicians Vai has ever worked with in his solo career. This disc is the only work after S&R where Vai has a capable crew of supporting musicians - with arrangements complex enough to give a chance for the skills to come out.
The only lo-fi piece is 'The Moon and I', which' solo still serves as a great showcase of Vai's best capabilities, and the inclusion is justified.
CONCLUSION: If you want 'Vai the Passion' instead of 'Vai in the Sleepy Garden' then you should consider buying this record. To me, a friend of the progressive side of Steve Vai, this is his all-time third best recording. But, if you don't yet have 'Passion & Warfare' and its follow-up, get those first.
on 25 September 2012
Along with the first installment of the Real Illusion trilogy, I have found the Story of Light more of a grower than previous Vai offerings and it has very positively been more and more rewarding with each & every listen.
As per usual, this is pure virtuosity of not only a master technician but, in my opinion, one of the most truly inspirational composers, band leaders and musical visionaries of our time. Harmonic complexities aplenty, much of the Story probably isn't for the casual listener but the wonderful 'band' performances (it's not all about the leader) and general feel, variety & depth of the tracks make for a very accessible album once given the chance to be absorbed.
As a negative though, I would've preferred EVERYTHING to have been a brand new composition solely from Steve. "The Moon and I" having previously been released, "John the Revelator" being a cover and "Mullach A'tSi" being a traditional Irish melody. Slightly disappointing as it curiously appears on the coveted 7th slot! Even more disappointing is the 'hot' mastering in places which, in particular, destroys "Mullach A'tSi" towards the end with digital clipping/distortion. A shame which has marred too many albums in recent years.
I maybe wouldn't say this is up there with previous Vai classics (for the very reasons I stated above) but, being a release that I have thoroughly enjoyed more than many others in recent times, I think this is a very worthy 5 star album!
on 9 October 2012
Steve Vai has always divided opinions within the guitar playing community,possibly more than any other guitarist in recent memory. Why is this and when did the haters turn against him?
Was it when he proved there was life after Malmsteen in Alcatrazz or his stunning playing on Diamond Dave's Eat'em and Smile which had everyone saying Eddie Van Who?
Frank Zappa saw genius in his "little Italian virtuoso" when Steve was still a teenager,and the young Vai has gone on to produce a vast and varied body of recorded work that none of his contempories can match.He also gives his musicians plenty of opportunities to shine on record and live on stage which explains why guys of the calibre of Sheehan,MacAlpine,Donati,Mangini etc have all graced his band.
This latest album "The Story of Light" is a multi layered melodic masterpiece which rewards the ears with every listen.
The first four tracks alone might just blow your speakers,such is the power of the music.
There is so much variety within each song and Bynoe and Colson form a formidable rhythm section.As for the guitar......never less than jaw droppingly stunning!
To those so called Vai "fans" who gave this album 1 or 2 stars and think Steve should just rehash Tender Surrender,Bad Horsie etc on every new release,I say shame on you. Oh! and if you are planning on leaving your bodies to medical science,I would exempt the ears, as they obviously don't work.