CD Metamorphosis [Uli Jon Roth & Sky Orchestra] [CD] [1 disc] (CD 6961328),
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Metamorphosis [Uli Jon Roth & Sky Orchestra] [CD] [1 disc]

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 08569492

  • Credits
    Producer
    Engineer

    Personnel includes: Uli Jon Roth (spoken vocals, guitar); Stephen Bentley-Klein, Brian Wright (violin); Giles Francis (viola); Nick Holland (cello); Don Airey (harpischord); Lucy Shaw (contrabass); Chris Lowe (percussion).
    After decades of drifting aimlessly in a musical equivalent of Superman's Phantom Zone, virtuoso guitarist Uli Jon Roth (who along with countryman Michael Schenker virtually wrote the Teutonic guitar hero scrolls during his spell with the Scorpions) finally stumbled upon a viable new creative framework with which to express his still formidable but often mislaid talents. Doing away with the psychedelic Hendrix worship that had branded him both a pale imitation and dated anachronism throughout the '80s and '90s, Roth rediscovered sure footing via the Transcendental Sky Guitar concept, which combined his expertise on a custom-designed instrument (the seven-string Sky Guitar) with backing by a full-fledged orchestral ensemble. This breakthrough has motivated Roth to begin composing anew, revisit old creations from his oeuvre, as well as reinterpret classical music standards with mostly stellar results, so for the third volume of the Transcendental Sky Guitar series, 2004's Metamorphosis, Roth and a 15-person-strong version of the Sky Orchestra (notably filled with female musicians as talented as they are stunning) have chosen to take a stab at Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. And, except for the odd whispered recitation and ancillary sound effects (wind, rain, thunder, etc.), the first half of Metamorphosis consists of a pretty straightforward reading of Vivaldi's masterwork, with Roth's preternatural guitar playing almost always acting the lead melodic themes. The results are both inspired and inspiring -- although one can't be entirely sure that the concert was truly performed live, as advertised, and a pinch of salt is needed to stomach Roth's hippie-fied subtitles for each movement (ever the flower child, he). Then, for those who find this program's first half far too formal and regimented, there's the 11-part second half (the actual "Metamorphosis" suite), where Uli leads the Sky Orchestra through a series of looser, more improvisational readings of Vivaldi's original four concerti. This portion of the program also highlights the rock and blues-based aspects of his technique, as well as unleashing frequent displays of blistering technical mastery. All in all, Metamorphosis restates the core philosophy behind the Transcendental Sky Guitar project and therefore qualifies as an excellent addition to the collection of any Uli Jon Roth loyalist, or fans of mind-blowing guitar playing in general. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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