Starting in the 1980s, there were people like Yngwie Malmsteen, Edward van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Chris Oliva and quite a few more who got the label guitar god attached. There was also at least one goddess apparently, called (The Great) Kat. They all had, or have, two things in common: first of, they’re guitar playing skills are fantastic, and second, in each case I lost my appetite for their music quite quickly, maybe with the exception of Eddy van Halen. All that shredding, speeding, tapping etc. is great for guitarists and guitar fans, but as a music listener it bores me quite quickly. Yes, I know, it’s great that someone can make his guitar talk like a human, but it’s all skill and technique and very little emotion, or feeling, if you will. I much prefer the feeling that e.g Steve Hackett put into old Genesis tracks.
Coming January, the world will see the release of an album that helps me with that: Cailyn Lloyd’s Voyager.
Cailyn Lloyd might also be a guitar goddess, but I think she’s broader than that. Her skills are great, like those of the others, but she manages to make it not only about technique, and guitar is not her only instrument – she plays synthesizers, bass and some of the drums on this album as well.
The album is an instrumental concept album, about the travels of the Voyager probes that were launched at the end of the 70s to explore the outer planets of our Solar system.
Each track, except the first and last one, is about one of the planets or moons the probes passed on their journey. The booklet with the CD includes a description of the different rock and gas bulbs, and reading those really shows why Cailyn composed the tracks the way she did. Composed or arranged I should say, because four of the tracks were composed by Gustav Holst.
The music simply makes you feel, or rather see, for example how the probes fly over the quiet surface of Io, enjoying a slow, somewhat melodic bass line, to be disturbed suddenly by a volcanic eruption of Cailyn’s guitar. A few tracks later, we find ourselves admiring quietly the rings of Saturn, accompanied by mellow keyboards and a bit of guitar, and suddenly we drop through them, driven by a heavy guitar riff, to end up on the dark side, slowly flying away from the giant planet with a steady rhythm towards Enceladus. That moon gives us a dark, almost cold track, just like the moon itself before we head of to Miranda, one of the weirdest moons in our solar system, represented by a high pitched lead guitar that together with a driving synthesizer takes us along the surface something that is best described as a planet turned partially inside out.
After that, there’s still more, with the roller coaster ride around Uranus, which contains a shuffled drum pattern, the moon Ariel, where a storm at the end of the track reminds me of the staccato riffs that Alex Lifeson played on Rush’ 2112.
Without wanting to describe all tracks, it is worth mentioning the use of an English horn on Pale Blue Dot, which is a track that almost makes the Voyager probes look back in a nostalgic way at earth in the very far distance.
The album closes with Heliopause, which, like the opening track, shows that Cailyn indeed has speed and skill on the guitar, until Voyager leaves the solar system at the sound of the last beat of the drums.
A well thought out album, for all who enjoying a bit of instrumental progressive symphonic rock, with a lot of emphasis on skilled guitar playing. Read along with the liner notes, or close your eyes and enjoy a trip through space. I love it.
(also published on ProgArchives.com)