Michael Schenker - Adventures Of The Imagination

(SPV/ Steamhammer)

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I really start to lose the overview over  Michael Schenker's bands and projects. A MSG studio album with Kelly Keeling (UNFORGIVEN), a MSG live album and tour with Keith Slack (Steelhouse Lane) and a new UFO album (COVENANT). This time, the mad german axeman presents a new instrumental release. ADVENTURES OF THE IMAGINATION was recorded with the help of Aynsley Dunbar (many many bands and now also UFO) on drums and John Onder (Artension, Joey Tafolla) on bass. Unlike on Schenker's last instrumental opus THANK YOU, which was entirely played on acoustic guitars, this time Mikey shows us how to shred. The album starts with Achtung, Fertig, Los (german for Ready, Steady, Go), a track that contains all of Schenker's typical trademarks: His simple but effective riffs and the unvelieveable licks and melody lines. Schenker is one of the few guitarists that are able to write a song that doesn't need any vocals. One day I caught myself singing to the guitar lines. Only Steve Morse, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are able to create such high-class instrumental songs. But Schenker is unique. His soloing is so fluent and melodic like no one else's. Open Gate is the perfect proof. A very simple riff, but the melody lines are so imaginative and tricky, it's simply fantastic. It's a great joy to listen to this album. Three Fish Dancing is a 14-minute marathon through various styles. From slow and dreamy over soft and relaxed to fast and heavy Schenker is able to cover the whole scale of musical emotions. Michael Schenker Junior, dedicated to his son, is a short quiet groover with a pounding drum beat by Mr. Dunbar and some heavenly fretwork. Aardvark In A VW Smoking A Cigar only has a weird title, the song itself is a rather usual midtempo rocker with nice bass lines.  I Want To Be With You is a love song dedicated to Schenker's wife. But no ballad! Always straight forward and with great harmonies. Old Man With Sheep On Mars, another song with a title that seems to be thought out under drug influence, also keeps the high level. Schenker has no need to prove his diversity demonstrating all the different styles he is able to play. With the exception of the last two tracks, the whole album goes more or less into the same direction: mid-tempo rockers with a powerful rhythm section and virtuoso soloing. Song number eight, At The End Of The Day, is a fantastic track without bass or drums, the rhythm is a basic riff played by acoustic guitar, similar to the tracks on THANK YOU. Over this simple framework, Schenker plays a not-from-this-earth guitar melody. This song is a hymn that really touches your soul. The last track Hand In Hand is not weaker! Over a harmonic and atmospheric synth rhythm Schenker adds more and more layers of heavenly guitar lines, always repeating the same melody, a method that leads the song to a fantastic climax. No instrumentals since Jason Becker's and Michael Lee Firkins' End Of The Beginning (from Jason Becker's PERSPECTIVE album) were able to evoke such emotions in me like the last two songs of ADVENTURES OF THE IMAGINATION. Critics who complain that every up-and-coming guitarrero could write and play these songs should keep their mouth shut, because it takes years to develop such a virtuoso playing full of feelings and emotions. In the booklet Schenker announces another instrumental CD for this summer. Let's hope he will keep his promise!

Rating: 9

Review by: Rage