Buckethead’s Buckheadland: Pikes (Series, beginning in May 2011) – Release review and series overview from new Riff Relevant staff writer, David LaMay. Welcome to the crew, Dave!
(Chief Editor’s Note: Please welcome David LaMay as a new staff writer to the Riff Relevant crew. As an introduction, Dave has chosen this unique artist’s release series to share his thoughts on. Now enough from me… onto Buckethead! — Leanne Ridgeway)
To say that I am a devoted Buckethead (a.k.a. Brian Patrick Carroll) admirer is a definite understatement. He is, in my humble opinion, the epitome of six-string brilliance on a near worship-able plane.
Carroll first grabbed my attention in 1996, with the acoustic beauty of ‘Colma‘, and subsequently locked me in as a life-long supporter with 2003’s demented classic of heavy/eclectic virtuoso brilliance with ‘Bucketheadland 2’.
Sadly, the man is most commonly known as a former member of Guns N’ Roses. A most ill-advised move indeed, as it did nothing to properly reflect the versatility and jaw-dropping ability he possesses. Rather it proved to pigeonhole him as a talented oddity, but little more.
A deeper look beyond the flaccid commercial mentality reveals much, much more. Bucket has been involved in unending multi-genre endeavors, including collaborations with the likes of Les Claypool, Bootsy Collins, Bill Laswell, Mike Patton, Viggo Mortensen, and Iggy Pop, to name a few.
Soundtracks? Yep. Saw II and Ghost Of Mars are there, along with plenty more. He refused to bend to the will of one Ozzy Osbourne in order to join his band.
That isn’t all, but since I don’t have a few days to fill in all the blanks, it will have to do. With the proper groundwork laid down, I think it’s time to get to the focus of the article- The Pike/Pikes series. What is it? Glad you asked.
Starting in May 2011, the bucket-clad one began releasing a series of thirty minute (give or take) releases – labeled as ‘Pikes’ – as his sole musical focus. Starting with the debut ‘It’s Alive’ and continued right up to the moment with ‘Blank Slate’, with no end in sight. Currently, 254 of them are out there, waiting to be heard. Yes, you read that right- 254!
What is contained within is where the magic happens, because, well, the sky is the limit for these numbered collections. While the preferred focus is seemingly heavy tunes with mind-melting axe work, that would be a weak, lame analysis to let stand on in its own.
Every and any release can have the following contained within- Funk, blues, techno, acoustic, ambient, bass/riff-only orientation, kill switch, classic rock, shred, doom, etc.
While he does tend to keep each record focus on a particular style and flow, that won’t stop the Bucket from melding any combination together without notice. Now, I could guide you directly to an example of each- but where is the fun in that?
Oh yes, I almost forgot… The quality versus quantity issue; I know it has to be on some reader’s mind. Are you bound to find similar themes or sounds at various times? Of course, but, by and large, they are of the strongest caliber and given the originality surrounding them, it is simply a non-issue. Production is always sterling, without exception.
There it is; I’ve given it my best. If you are a lover of heavy guitar music, but find it to often be predictable and lacking identity, Buckethead and the Pikes he crafts are the best antidote available.
Do not concern yourself with the merit of his stage persona (which is quite fun, by the way) or any pre-conceived notions you may have going in. Get down to the music, open your mind/ears, and prepared to be wowed if you do so.
You can view a live video and full concert set for yourself, via YouTube streams below the photos.
— David LaMay, Staff Writer