"BOW" Copyright & Published 2013 by Ray Kostiainen
When you hear the style "Instrumental Guitar Rock" mentioned, who do you think about? Certainly, you can think of a few successfully known and critically acclaimed guitarist who are true artist. In the instrumental guitar genre, the guitarist is the front man, because their are no singers. While being front and center in the spotlight, guitarist can shred the chords and bend the notes at their will, all the while displaying live showmanship that is very entertaining.
Most guitarist today stand on stage like a tree, watching their fingers push the strings into their guitar neck, note for note. This my BIGGEST Pet Peeve of any professional musician who performs live. Those bores who do that live, cause the "TREE EFFECT." The guitarist stands there like a stiff TREE and everyone else in the audience LEAVES.
The great guitarist don't need to look down. It is fun to watch a pro spinning the guitar around and playing behind their heads or playing the guitar with their teeth. If it looks good & sounds good, after the show, the audience piles out into the street playing air guitar and making those funny guitar playing faces.
Sometimes these great live rock guitarist have their talent lost in translation, when they go into the recording studio. It seems that once their acrobatic visual tricks are removed, they sometimes seem to have lost their energy and excitement. Sometimes, it is much better to see them live, then listen to them on an ipod while working out in the gym (or while eating a Burrito at home).
It is true, I have never seen Australian Guitarist Ray Kostiainen perform live but what I hear on his new CD titled BOW is talent and energy captured via recording. Energy is here and a music direction, that is his form of pure art. At different times, the songs are crafted in a way that charges your ears. The current then flows to your feet and before you know it, feet are tapping or maybe stomping on the floor (not recommended if you live in an upstairs apartment).
Ray Kostiainen's Guitar play on this CD is not just a few riffs placed into one simple music bed niche. Bow is a catchy well thought out piece of art displaying several music styles of music rolled up in to one, 7 song, strong EP.
A couple of my most favorite tunes are :
BOW (play here)
Title tracks can be tricky. Some artists fail to realize that when a song matches the album or EP's title, it should make a statement about the art direction of the body of work it is named after. Title tracks should be like a synopsis to a school report. Ray seems to understand this because BOW is a prime example of what you will find most on this CD. The synopsis is aggressive, yet catchy and full of art. It changes feel every few moments. It is not just a solo with a tune behind it. Even the keys on this tune seem to be well thought out.
This tune has more of a Smooth Jazz feel with tempo & grove changes which keeps the song fresh and appealing after several listenings. Ray mixed a slice of funk in there to make it even more interesting. Good arrangement. Ray Kostiainen is not the only one showing off musically here. This song, like the rest of the CD, has solid musicianship by everyone involved. Every component works well individually as well as collectivity.
On Bow, the musicianship is very tight. Yuji Otaki on Bass and Leigh Doolan on Drums display that they too (or those two) have good playing technique and stamina to keep up with the various interchangeable styles on the tunes of this strong CD. Like a school of fish who swim in unison and flow with the water current, all of the musicians seem to have fun with their playing, yet move in unison.
One of the things that I liked most about BOW, is that it kept me interested and I wanted to hear what was next. The performance has clean and crisp guitar chops. The music takes you on a ride into one direction then, like a magician's slight of hand, the tunes branch off into a new uncharted territory. Good recording and good mix are the polish that makes this baby shine.
I did however, find a flaw about the CD, but it had nothing to do with the music. I never judge a CD by it's cover. It is what inside that counts the most, to me. Others... not so much. The artwork is not as thought out as the music. Optical presentation is very important when you are an unsigned or independent musician trying to get noticed. If a little more time was spent on packaging and making the artwork and photos more inviting to others, this CD could have more people giving it a listen.
I have never been able to play guitar well. In fact, I Suck at it. However, the fine tunes on BOW featuring the guitar sounds created by Ray Kostiainen, makes me want to pick up my air guitar and jam. It is empowering as I make the faces to mimic the screams and squeals of the guitar. I can swing the guitar around and play behind my neck and I can also play with my teeth, nose, and left foot.
Have you ever noticed that many great instrumental guitarist have unique names? Are they born to have original and unique guitar play? I will not get into a debate of saying which guitarist is better than that guitarist. I will say that it is my opinion that Kostiainen fits right in with guitarists like Malmsteen, Satrini, or Vai better than others who cannot capture a good recording.
As of today, I don't know if Ray Kostiainen has the showmanship of my air guitar play nor of others who can play guitar with a real guitar. I also could not tell you if he stares at his guitar neck note for note. Maybe someday, he will get to play in the states and I can score a ticket to see him play live. Until then the only ticket anyone from the U.S. can get to see Ray Kostiainen, is a round trip ticket to down under. I think that it may be worth the trip.