Nathan Stewart (guitars/programmed instruments), Yohanand Kumaran (bass) and Guner Gucen (drums) are String Theory. With such a grand name of a theory that tries to explain everything I was expecting music that was going to be more ethereal and cosmic. Their debut Arcade Planet is an instrumental album that is all over the place. They jump from genre to genre with no regard to defining a sound. It’s certainly impressive that they can pull this many styles off but it does absolutely nothing in regards to building a foundation.
They start with “Cosmonaut” which is a very ’80s sounding instrumental track in the essence of Joe Satriani. There is no denying the guitar work is technically sound but it’s also the type of solo you have heard artists of the same ilk play like Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. The song does have a lot changes and there is no denying that the song rocks.
The next song “Mexican Saloon” starts deviating from the initial vibe but not by much. I definitely know why they named it “Mexican Saloon.” “To Eleven” is certified prog rock while “Hologram Jam” is an eleven-minute jam session. I definitely noticed the recording quality taking a dip on this track for whatever reason. After this song the band does out into left field with “Hyperdrive” which is rockabilly, “Boogie Man Blues” which is a blues based song and “Sunsets on the Riviera” which sounds like Flamenco music. They close with “Arcade Planet” which a ten-plus-minute atmospheric jam that veers towards Pink Floyd.
It may be fun for the band itself to experiment with all these different styles but they need to realize it’s not as much fun for the listener. If you think about almost any successful band they have their sound whether it’s Radiohead, Joe Satriani, The White Stripes, Weezer or The Flaming Lips. Sure styles change and bands evolve but a disparate range of styles can be a bit confusing for a listener. The band has a tremendous amount of creative and technical talent and on the next album I’ll like to hear a little more focus on establishing a signature sound.
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