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Sifu Stephen Doe - 2003 - "Trial"



TRACK LIST:                                 
1.  Drive 3:24
2.  Judy 3:40 
3.  A Long Way-I 4:48
4.  Past Regrets 1:38
5.  Journey's Return 4:06
6.  Monster Steps 4:32
7.  Alive 6:06 
8.  Guitar Etude Opus 1 2:06
9.  The Makeover 3:09
10. Inspired Again 7:51


Sifu Stephen Doe - all instruments

Prolusion. Sifu Stephen DOE is a guitarist based in New Hampshire, USA, and "Trial" is his first release as a solo artist. As Doe is still unsigned, this is a self-release, whose quality marks it as a good old-fashioned demo rather than a fully-fledged album.

Analysis. Musically Doe tries his hand at the same type of release that Joe Satriani brought out at the start of his career. The music is instrumental, the guitar being obviously the central instrument, and moods and melodies are given much more space here than in most other releases by guitarists. Doe shows in flashes throughout that he has got shredding ability, pace and technique, but the main focus on this release are hooks, melodies and the showcasing of a breadth of playing and compositional abilities. Still, this is not a guitar only album. Drums, synth, piano and bass are used on most tracks, showcasing Doe's guitar playing in a realistic environment. The individual songs are a varied lot, quite a few of the tracks seemingly made to sound appealing to regular listeners without playing knowledge or abilities of their own, whereas other tunes seem to be made to showcase Doe's abilities for the benefit of other guitarists, record companies and guitarist-seeking bands alike. All songs on this release showcase slightly different types of playing styles or compositional styles; most of them within the framework of hard rock or metal. Personal highlights: Judy, a nice track which makes me think of Al DiMeola, and Past Regrets, a short track exploring a melancholy piano melody enhanced by acoustic guitar, electric guitar and a slow-paced solo.

Conclusion. Overall I expect this release to be of interest to a selected audience only. Fans of guitar records in general, especially fans of guitar players showing quite a lot of variety, will have an interest in this release. Others had better check out samples from this disc before deciding whether to buy or not. One other aspect of this outing should also be noted - it is a self-recorded release, and of relative low quality. The mix is bad in places; there's a general noise in most tracks similar to that found in demo tapes of yesteryear, and the overall sound here is quite raw - all of which further limits the potential buying audience for this release, I'd presume.

OMB: December 2, 2007

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Sifu Stephen Doe


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