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Joel Hoekstra

REVIEWS

From AlternateMusicPress.com.

This one's a real head-scratcher. I'm sure there are some guitar enthusiasts out there who actually know who Mr. Hoekstra, in fact, is (forgive me, Joel), but "Undefined" is a positively breathtaking album. So much so, I'm flipping back through my CD collection to listen to Steve Vai's "Flexable," Allan Holdsworth's "Road Games," Mike Keneally's "hat," Ani DiFranco's "Living In Clip," Steve Morse's "Introduction" and my Tribal Tech collection to see if the goose bumps match.

Yes, it's that good.

A few words that come to mind when attempting to describe the material guitarist Hoekstra has concocted here are diverse, fearless, and funny. Mostly diverse. "Electric Fields" rekindles some spacey-electric Metheny, "Urban Experiments" is a delightfully quirky shuffle, "Corny" sounds like a '70s TV show theme (Barney Miller, anybody?), "Gorilla Man 2000" is a loving nod to vintage Beck, "Kill Swing" is a zoot suit riot gone horribly wrong, and "Plot In Motion" starts out with a sinister Pink Panther motif. Did I mention "funny?" "Space Cowboy" mixes carnival-barker vocals with speed-picking and a vaudevillian two-step that would make all of the Dixie Dregs smile.

The rest of the core trio makes it all work. Bassist Ric Fierabracci (Andy Summers, Frank Gambale) shines on "Reflection" and the aforementioned "Fields," and Aussie-drummer Virgil Donati (Planet X, Tribal Tech) is simply inhuman on "Gorilla Man 2000." Over crisp double-stroke rolls-- with his feet --he plays unison lines, then adds a little beat displacement, then decides to solo. Ugh.

And another yes to "is the guitar playing worthy?" Chops can be sickening, but when the surgeon knows how to use the knife, it's not that painful. Whether rocking, sliding, feeding back, playing jazz scales or dishing out major twang, the Chicago-based Hoekstra probably won't be unknown for long.

The final listed track is "Spank Me," with some delicious vocals from Cathy Richardson, whose band is Hoekstra's main gig. After all this, there's even a hidden track - a bluesy, down-home version of "Amazing Grace." Oh, stop it. Show any more taste, Joel, and you'll cement your place in obscurity.

Review by Don Zulaica

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