Robert Branch,
Courage to Be
(independent, 2010)

This CD seems to be made for electric guitarists. Robert Branch only works with bassist David Gonzalez and drummer Tim Zhorne with the 10 original compositions on Courage to Be. And while there is some variation in effects and rhythm, most of the playing is at top speed.

Branch has a quote from the Tao Teh Ching on the back of the CD sleeve, and his interests are reflected with titles including "The Veil Within" and "Exodus of Discipline." This is not new-age music, however. The closest comparison might be with John McLaughlin, who combined a bent for Eastern spiritual practices with superfast fretwork.

There is a lot of energy here. As with many instrumental CDs, however, the tracks are so dominated by Branch's virtuosity everything tends to sound the same after a certain point. The intensity is not relaxed until the last song, "Lullaby for D," and it is difficult to feel the meanings that Branch wants to express in his music.

The appeal of Courage To Be might be limited to guitarists and fans of players like Joe Satriani.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Dave Howell

23 October 2010

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