|Joe Satriani - Is There Love in Space?|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 13 April 2004|
Too many times, albums created by guitar gods are difficult for the typical music fan to warm up to. These projects sometimes leave listeners with the nagging feeling that everything being played is directly pointed toward guitar tech dudes, instead of the average audience. But a beautiful exception to this otherwise troubling rule of thumb is Is There Love In Space? by Joe Satriani, since it’s simply an enjoyable collection of electric guitar-oriented music.
Granted, Satriani never disappoints with his speedy playing here – so his godly stature among mere mortal string-benders is left soundly intact. In fact, many of his solos are otherworldly enough to have seemingly come from some distant planet. But it’s the wide variety of the styles presented here, and the overall song-based nature of the playing, which makes it a consistently listenable experience from start to finish.
As might be expected, this is an album mainly comprised of instrumentals. These range from the chunky rocker “The Souls of Distortion” to the blues-rock of “Up in Flames” to the weirdly titled funk of “Gnaahh.” Few of these are what might be considered extended jams, however, as many clock in at six minutes or less. “Searching,” as an exception, lasts 10 minutes altogether. With its slow and menacing bass line and snare snaps interspersed at its beginning, it comes off like a close non-vocal relative to Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold.” Like Nugent’s classic rock staple, “Searching” also gets a grip on the listener from the get-go, and never releases.
Nevertheless, there are a few vocals from Satriani on this disc. “Lifestyle,” for instance, features his weary singing of a lyric dealing with a woman whose lifestyle is just a little too fast-lane hectic for his tastes. Elsewhere, “I Like the Rain,” which begins with the sound effect of a Harley Davidson motorcycle revving up (maybe that’s his unwanted fast-lane chick taking off), lays its vocal over echoing guitar and sparse harmonica elements.
This is by and large a loud music album, even though it also contains a few quieter moments. One of these softer selections is the closer “Bamboo,” which begins with a guitar part that sounds a whole lot like wind chimes. “Is There Love in Space?” is slow and kind of soulful yet spacey. “Just Look Up” is also a quieter tune, which prominently features gentle acoustic guitar.
Although this album never actually answers the question of whether or not love exists in space – not that that was even one of its intentions to begin with -- it does, however, display Joe Satriani’s musical soulfulness, which nicely compliments his obvious guitar skills. There’s plenty of wonderful earthbound guitar music being made on our home planet, that’s for sure.