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Joel Hoekstra

REVIEWS


The following was translated from the March/April edition of Gitara i Bas magazine.

Read the interview.

Discs like this make us still believe that guitar music is doing well; that there are musicians surfacing who do not have two of the most painful complexes of the nineties: neoclassical (set off by Yngwie) or virtuoso rock (Vai, Satriani, etc.). What intrigues the listener here at once is the style of the guitarist's playing. This style connects experiment with fun; tradition with modernism; and focus with freedom. It is full of innovations, various colors and lots of variety in the part of the guitar. The pieces from the beginning fascinate with space and well-weighted sounds. In the first piece Hoekstra shows that he is a one person cross between Brett Garsed, TJ Helmerich and Eric Johnson. His technique is devilish when he plays legato passages with two-hand tapping or when he plays fusion phrases with shades of Brett Garsed's tricks. Fingerstyle and other articulation "acrobatics" are no stranger to him either. He can practically manage to play anything, but he doesn't exaggerate showing off. Funky MAD BAR and following HOMEWORK have themes played by guitar and sax and remind one of music from movie thrillers and also talk-show music. CORNY is similar, but with a clavinet's color in the background. KILL SWING is a fantastically twisted shuffle and reminds me of experimental psychadelics of Vai spiced up with characteristic tricks of Jim Campilongo from San Francisco. Hoekstra can also be a joker. He shows it in a country-based SPACE COWBOY, but a moment later he can manage a mature and deep reflection-REFLECTION- with a beatiful theme soaring high above the section's groove. SLIDE TUNE very much reminds one of Brett Garsed's playing, who was also famous for phenomenal use of the slide technique. Progressive rock GORILLA MAN 2000 and PLOT IN MOTION contain lessons on how a contemporary rock guitarist shoud play: freely, with fantasy, imagination, mixing various techniques and styles. AFGHANISTAN BLUES originated earlier than the recent military conflict. It contains plenty of reverie and desert spaces. At the end there is a blues humoresque in the style we know from Scott Henderson's "Dog Party". Another topic that needs to be mentioned is the rhythm section-especially the bassist Ric Fierabracci. I really enjoyed the funky grooves played with the "meaty" timbre of the bass and his solos are well-weighted and played with assurance. Fierabracci gives secure support no matter what style he plays and the consecutive discs on which he performs are proof of his systematic development. "Undefined" is the most interesting debut of recent years. I haven't heard anyone play this way before: so universal and searching. Although compositionally rough, it showcases amazing skills, an attention to detail and a flair for style. Stylistically it is not a compositional whole, showing that Hoekstra is still searching, but he is very capable and the possibilities for him seem endless.

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