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Buckethead

Discussion in 'Music Discussion' started by CriedWhenBrucieLeft, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Pike 208 - The Wishing Brook: And it's back to "normal" with a very sparse atmospheric Pike. No weird noises here, just great soundscapes using only a pad synth and a guitar. This is more atmospheric than anything released during the Halloween series. Good stuff.

    Pike 209 - Rooms of Illusions
    : Another nice mellow Pike. Love the main theme that is repeated throughout. There's more stuff going on here than on the previous Pike. Some more chordal stuff and of course more instruments. Also some really nice buildups. Didn't take long at all for Buckethead to get back into his groove.

    Pike 210 - Sunken Parlor
    : Heavy Buckethead returns! Some awesome classic Bucket riffing here. Love those "pull-off riffs". The rollercoaster track artwork is also fitting because this is totally the sort of music that could be played on a rollercoaster. Has the right twists and turns and a consistently high energy level. Also some nice tasty leads. Good stuff. The title track is shorter but still pretty cool. A little more on the shred side, but it works here. There's some crazy stuff going on and the shredding fits the rhythm parts. Love the chaotic sound of this. Great riffing and soloing.

    Pike 211 - Screen Door
    : Love the heavy riff that starts this off. Nice variety on this collection of relatively shorter songs. It's mostly pretty heavy, but he brings it down about halfway through. I really like the Pikes where he mixes things up. The swing of "Nn" is very nice. These songs are short and hit hard. A nice break from the norm as of late.

    Pike 212 - Hornet
    : Another mellow Pike. He's really going all out with those lately, which isn't a bad thing at all. Some different sounds here, especially in the percussion. Very tasteful dynamic work and some solid leads. Another winner.

    Pike 213 - Crumple: Buckethead's classic melodic riffing style gives a promising start to this Pike. Unfortunately this was too repetitive for me. The soloing is good but I can only take so much of it before getting bored, especially when it's over a looped rhythm track. Still, as I said, the soloing is very good. Some of his most tasteful playing in quite some time is on this Pike. So it's not bad at all.

    Pike 214 - Trace Candle
    : A very melancholy and more promising start to this one. Awesome Pike. Just Buckethead doing his thing on a clean guitar. Sometimes I find it annoying when Bucket doesn't edit it out the guitar buzz, but it works well with the atmosphere on this one. Very sparse playing, but it creates such a nice mood.

    Pike 215 - Teflector: I like that he seems to be alternating between heavy and mellow Pikes. This one was more of a mixed bag. A little too shreddy for me, but there were some really cool parts. It was sort of the opposite of Crumple. There were some really cool rhythmic parts going on, but they all seemed kinda unfinished because Buckethead just soloed over them instead of coming up with complementary guitar parts. So a lot of parts on here with unrealized potential.

    Pike 216 - Wheels of Ferris
    : This is more like it. Less emphasis on soloing and lots of dynamic/mood changes. The right amount of twists and turns for another amusement park themed Pike. Love the heavy triplet riff that starts off Forgotten Factory. Overall a solid slab of music with a nice variety of riffs and soulful melodies. Good stuff.

    Pike 217 - Pike Doors
    : A nice mellow Pike. Love the chilled percussion parts. They complement the music in a way his rhythm parts don't always accomplish. Then about halfway through it gets heavy. Totally unexpected, love when he does that. Great set of leads and a nice slow buildup. Third Door is short but sweet, a nice little tune. I find some of these shorter tunes end up being some of the most interesting moments on the album.

    Pike 218 - Old Toys
    : Really interesting sound on this one. The guitar tone and phrasing is a little different for him, although it eventually builds into a more "typical" Buckethead sound. What's with all the fadeouts? I'm kinda iffy with the first two tracks, but things really get going with Mount Shasta. Great tune. Oak Island is pretty unique, it has a 70s hard rock feel to it. Valley Of the Fog is a nice closing piece, like a spiritual successor to Trace Candle. More of this! I liked this Pike, although I wonder how much of it is made up of unfinished ideas from throughout the year. Like a final statement on his busiest release year ever. It does have a bit of everything, but it serves as a nice compilation that way.

    Pike 219 - Rain Drops On Christmas
    : A predictably mellow start, given the title. Not a bad thing at all though, a nice way to close out the year. Buckethead in one of his best modes. Puddles has a very nice chord melody. Things get surprisingly heavy with Cookie Monster. Cool riffing, guitar tone fits the title. The soloing on this is awesome. Awesome riffing in the album's last two tracks. Seems like Bucket put extra thought into this one. Lots of variety and I love the way it starts out mellow and then gets progressively heavier until it finishes with heavy riffing and some (Tasteful) shredding.

    And that's 2015. This year was a trip. Some of his absolute best albums mixed with some of his absolute worst and everything in between. The release schedule was insane and, frankly, too much. I guess it was his way of coping with the death of his parents, but still there's some really good stuff buried in the clutter. He also stepped up on the experimentation, which I appreciate. As for this set of Pikes, I expected it to be strong material after devoting a whole month to noise stuff. He mostly delivers. I assume a lot of this was music he worked on during October and saved for later. The post-Halloween set starts off extremely strong. Even though it takes a dip eventually, the weaker Pikes are still among his better work for 2015.

    In the home stretch!
     
    CriedWhenBrucieLeft likes this.
  2. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Lost my draft for this post, so I'm just going to give brief words on each:

    Pike 220 - Mirror Realms
    : Blue Slides is a masterpiece, this is what you want to hear 220 for. The rest is good and also heavier, I found it interesting how it's a 3 part piece but there are complete stops between parts. It's disjointed but almost in a good way. It fits the music. The sound effects are cool too.

    Pike 221 - Cove Cloud
    : This one is all mellow. Great melodic work here. The closing track is a short ambient piece that was really interesting to listen to.

    Pike 223 - Dragging the Fence
    : Easily the best Pike in this decade. It's all acoustic guitar. It's like Buckethead is in the room playing for you. Mindblowing stuff.

    Pike 224 - Buildor
    : This is a close second. Some of Buckethead's most intense dynamic work. It's almost cinematic. So many twists and turns and a persistent level of heaviness throughout.

    Pike 225 - Florrmat: A more stripped down Pike. Some good rhythmic work and riffing, but nothing too special. Not a huge fan of the guitar tone.

    Pike 226 - Happy Bday MJ 23: Great Pike, although being one of his "tribute" albums I was expecting something a little more unique. This felt more like a compilation of leftover ideas, but still a very strong set of leftovers.

    Pike 227 - Arcade Of the Deserted
    : The almost 80s sounding guitar tone gives this Pike a cool start. Love this recent format of 4 songs with very different styles. Swung Vault is awesome. :shred:

    Pike 228 - The Creaking Stairs
    : Great riffing on this one. Heavy and melodic. Another more stripped down Pike, which is fine with me. Love the chromatic stuff toward the end.

    Pike 229 - Cabs
    : More great melodies in the opening title track. The intro almost has a folksy vibe to it. Sludging Through the Slaughterhouse is a bluesier affair, not really my thing but not too bad either. I don't mind as long as it's the only song on the album in that mode. Styrofoam Cut-Ups brings the heavy riffing back. Love that triplet riffing that has been prominent in much of his work lately. It's short, but leaves a big impression. Buckethead saves the best for last with Underneath the Arctic. Really dark and sinister sounding tune. Love the almost tribal 6/8 rhythm underneath Buckethead's dark guitar playing.

    Very strong set of Pikes. Only one I didn't care for and even that was a little enjoyable at least. Buckethead kicked off 2016 with a really high bar.
     
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  3. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    The usual review-of-reviews will be forthcoming shortly, Mosh.
     
  4. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    Not sure if I really have anything to add here! :p

    No, let's be serious. I've a "Ambient/Noise" playlist & basically anything 3* or better makes that list. The Halloween series-within-a-series does have quite a few 3* tracks making up that playlist but only a handful rise above that (to 4*) and require specific comment. Some of this is dreadful; in the sense that it's just too abrasive (mostly the guitar orientated stuff), for me, to be enjoyable to listen to, even as "noise". Pike #178 Blurmwood should be noted as actually having some music on there (and you could argue it doesn't fit the theme at all); pretty solid release hidden away there, although nothing spectacular (all 4* tracks). Pike 182 Window Fragment is the first release in the Halloween series which I have multiple 3* tracks noted. Pike #184 Wax is actually pretty decent as far the theme goes. Nothing too offensive or abrasive here (both 3* tracks). There are a few other 3* heavy Halloween Pikes, but nothing I can be bothered going into detail about.

    Specific highlights you ask? Window Fragment part 10 (from Pike #182) is pretty cool. It's the final track in a fairly strong (as far as it goes) Halloween Pike. Spooky, with some chilling synth moments. Volume swells are just right too. Can't say this really holds a candle to other normal/regular 4* tracks (as applies to all my comment here), but within the theme/genre it certainly rises above the rest (4*). Forgotten Experiment part 8 (from Pike #187) is, like the previous track, the final track in a pretty decent Halloween release. And, again, it's the spooky synth work that really marks it out as successful. An enjoyable listen (4*). Now Pike #189 Blue Squared is interesting. The first track, Blue Squared part 1, really is a success with the introduction of rhythm, with that synth walking pattern throughout. It even has a functional melody! Definitely worth a listen & something quite different from anything else Buckethead has ever done. Again, no guitar work on here (4*). Part 3 & 4 are also decent (3*) making this release, overall, worth a visit. Eye on Spiral part 7 (Pike #198) is also a reasonably successful track on an otherwise to be missed Halloween Pike. For some reason I felt the abrasive elements, which are few, actually kind of worked here (4*). Flare Up part 1 (Pike #199) and we have, as you say, guitars and drums! Actual music. And music that works & still kind of fits the series (4*). Part 3 is also decent but not quite up to the standards of part 1 (3*). Unfortunately part 2 is fucking horrible (1*)! :p

    Overall & interesting idea (the series of Halloween releases generally), but not very well executed. It also threatened to totally kill the Pike project in terms of credibility. Perhaps he could have mitigated this slightly by pulling these releases out of the numbered series & releasing them as some sort of standalone. It's sits rather uncomfortably, now, within the series. Loads of fans also don't have them, so it kind of jars with elements of the fanbase who have a fairly high tolerance for experimentation & want to hear & have all of his releases; but this was a step too far. Plus, they were full price ($8.99) & there was one being released every day. Who has that kind of money to throw around? Not me, that's for sure...
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
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  5. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    The cobwebs of Halloween have been swept away (or put back up the loft for next year) & the crazy release rate continues. Seven "normal" releases in November; he must have been saving them up! Pikes #208 & #209 from the previous decade plus another full decade of releases takes up to the end of 2015.
    The Halloween sparseness lingers on, but the tone & atmosphere is entirely different. This whole release is full of gloomy, pensive reverie. Lovely subtle guitar work throughout accompanied by brooding synth work & just the hint of percussion. Love it! All three tracks are 5* for Cried. A taste of things to come...
    Continues on from The Wishing Brook in terms of the mood, but now the guitar work kicks in. Lovely stripped down semi-acoustic stuff going on here. Drums are well developed & other percussion elements really mark this out as a new phase in Buckethead's compositions I feel. Essentially one continuous track with everything on here top quality (all 5* tracks).
    Heavy Buckethead returns indeed. Quite upbeat melodically speaking but doesn't even begin to drag for a 21-minute track which is incredible really. Seven minutes in a the soloing begins. Wall Slide really is an awesome track all-in (5*). Second track, Sunken Parlor, has to have some Buckethead's most aggressive soloing that I can recall. The lead that kicks in at 3:35 is phenomenal along with that thundering rhythm underneath. The tremolo picking bend (at ~4:28) is absolutely fucking insane. There's tapping & sweeping just clattering together in some of the most brutal lead playing imaginable. His playing is just frightening. Imagine if he'd had a GoPro on the neck of his guitar for this recording! What a track (5*)!
    I really like this Pike too. The pace has calmed down from the antics of Sunken Parlor & there are some really lovely melodic passages. All very rhythm & riff based with no soloing really. He does this so well when he sets his mind to it. Well constructed & paced, everything seems very thematically linked tonally although the tracks are standalone. Other than a slight dip with the second short Are track (4*), everything else on this is damn fine (all 5*).
    Yeh, definitely different stuff gong on here in the percussion department. Makes this release quite distinct in that respect. Guitar too has this jangly tone to it. First three tracks essentially set the tone, fourth track introduces some really restrained soloing that totally fits, and the final track brings in some heavy elements. As standalone tracks I'd probably only rate parts 1-3 as 4*, but essentially the whole release is 5*. The final two tracks (parts 4 & 5) are definitely 5* in isolation. Just another really strongly composed release.
    This is essentially one big track; the separation only really marks the start of the soloing section. Part one is a lovely little segment all on its own (5*); could have been longer I suppose. Part two is repetitive I'll concede. Quite rocky. There's a kind of solo vs solo trade-off thing going on too early on. Awesome. Personally, I can listen to 26 minutes of this. The soloing isn't just straight shred or anything, it's quite melodic here (5*).
    Reminiscent of Wishing Brook but more guitar work here. No track division this time either. Honestly, who else puts out half-an-hour of music like this? This really is the strength of the Pikes format; that he can put out a release like this. Fantastically melancholic (5*).
    Probably the first slight dip in what has been an incredible set of releases post-Halloween. Opener, Teflecter, is really good; nice melodic rhythm work here & soloing (5*). The Q tracks are quite like you say I suppose. There's lots to keep you entertained here but perhaps a little too much crazy soloing for some. It's got that whole soloing + bass thing going on (quite like the Mirror Realms tracks still to be discussed) with little or no accompanying rhythm guitar part. I can totally listen to that provided the lead tone is pleasing & the bass playing is dynamic/interesting enough. It is here. I like these; a little scrappy & never rise to anything truly memorable. Q12 to Q6 all 4* for me.
    Off the back of Teflector, which although good is mildly forgettable, I kind of overlook how good Wheels of Ferris really is. Saw See is epic. Really restrained guitar work again with these expansive synth parts. Kicks in mid-song with lovely melodic, really soulful passages. Gorgeous track (5*). Forgotten Factory bounces along nicely without really going anywhere (4*). Jumps straight into Lamp, which sort of feels like it might have been the same track. Back to the feel & mood of the first track again. Love this Buckethead mood (5*). I forgot how much these tracks blend together. Wheels of Ferris runs right off the back of Lamp just like the previous track division. Slow, reflective & moody. The awesomeness continues (5*). The start of Stapler is glorious. Hard to describe. This track has just has some really lovely melodic rhythm guitar playing. Nothing flashy, just so simple, but effective (5*). B Train to Bronx is the first track in a few which feels really independent here, after that sequence of blended tracks. Big ringing delay-drenched chord work here (5*). Wax Barrell slows it down again. Quite different feel to the rest of the album. I like it when Buckethead strips the guitar effects down & plays with that cleaner, twangy tone; reminiscent of the Bayou tone. Either way, another great track (5*). Overall, a very satisfying release with plenty of variety. First of the bizarre album covers.
    The precursor to Buildor (forthcoming). Flat out some of the best material Buckethead has put out. Playing, synth work, production; everything, awesome. The percussion stuff is really tasteful, very nice. Door One is really chilled out & atmospheric (5*). Door Two brings in the heavy & a stronger lead guitar voice. Again, fantastic track with a surprising amount of quite shreddy playing (5*). These two really should be viewed as one track. Door Three serves as a strange little bookend. Same synth work to begin with but this is lead by a very strong series of melodic lead guitar parts. More rocky overall. Superb track (5*). A great, great release overall.
    God, I love this release. I totally agree in regards to tone & phrasing; there is something different here. Old Toys is such a cool track, love it. The lead that kicks in is essentially a Buckethead master-class on how to use an Wah pedal. Love what's going on underneath that soloing too. Fadeout doesn't bother me at all (5*). Zone Ahead brings back a little bit of groove which has been noticeably absent in recent releases. But then the lead guitar bit is something quite different. Hard to describe really; it's just not the usual bluesy fair. Very nice (4*). Mount Shasta opens & you're struck immediately with the thought that this is going to be upliftingly epic. And it is. Oddly relaxing & laid-back feeling while at the same time positively upbeat. Strange but captivating (5*). Oak Island is back to plain old Rock. The soloing keeps this one interesting (4*). Exit 46 brings the groove back, but again there is something new here. Has this cool almost 80's tone to it. Like it a lot despite it not really going anywhere (5*). Valley of the Fog is back, as you say, to that Trace Candle feel. Sparse & beautiful. Also has noticeable lack of editing out of guitar buzz, as you previously noted. Doesn't really matter, awesome (5*). Again, a very satisfying release overall, with lots of variety.
    Buckethead's Christmas releases are, for me, always a slight (very slight sometimes) let-down. This, overall, is merely respectable. Rain Drops on Christmas is very mellow, bordering on downbeat. Great track though (4*). Puddles is indeed very nice; very simple & effective (4*). The Cookie Monster is totally left-field after the first two tracks. Big munchy guitar tone that totally reflects the title. Good killswitch use (feels like we haven't heard that for a long, long while); and the soloing, although nothing new, fits surprisingly well over that crazy tone (5*). I know you know what that present is... is a totally solid track, although thematically it probably has no place here (4*). Ditto, ...But don't tell me (the final track); some of the usual shreddy antics as you note (4*). Overall a decent release, although doesn't feel very special or memorable overall.
    Yeh, it was hard going at times. It's been a lot of fun revisiting these for these discussions though.
    This has to be one of the strongest decades in the series. Other than the merely respectable closer, Rain Drops, and Teflector, I found pretty much everything here of the highest quality. Even his heavy shreddy stuff delivered. Frankly, it's unbelievable that he put the bulk of this out in just over a month. Simply phenomenal.
    It really is close now. Mind the #230-239 decade has a huge six-month break in it. Be interesting to see if you felt that break even registered in terms of quality or not.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
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  6. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    The upcoming non-pike release has October 31st as a release date. *Upcoming shit music alert*
     
  7. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    So negative... ::)
     
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  8. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    The 8.99 price tag is pretty ridiculous. I have more to say about the financial aspects of the Pikes as a whole, but will save that for when I've heard them all. If there was ever a "jump the shark" moment, this was it. I remember watching these Pikes from the outside and checking out some occasionally out of curiosity. The releases were already coming at a ridiculous pace for the first 9 months of the year, by the time he started releasing one Pike a day it started to seem like he was playing a joke on his fans.

    I definitely agree that the guitar oriented stuff is the worst, ironically. Some of the synthy stuff is actually really good. When he was channeling John Carpenter he was on to something. It's hard to do noise/ambient music and have it taken seriously, especially when that's not what you're known for. My take is that he has a genuine interest in it but has a hard time releasing it with a straight face, so the result is some incredibly bad ones mixed in with the good and the ridiculous prospect of an album a day.
     
  9. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    So this is where the Halloween releases were a good thing. Getting a break from the more traditional Pikes to experiment definitely seemed to refresh him. The stuff that followed the Halloween series is really among his best work and the highlight to 2015.
     
  10. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Pike 230 - Rooftop: A little too noodly for me. Some nice ideas but overall there’s too much soloing and not enough riffs or composed melodies. The title track has a cool creepy vibe, but again too repetitive.

    Pike 231 - Drift
    : Great Pike. I’m really digging the four song Pike format lately. With these Pikes each song is vastly different and all are usually worth hearing. Some great melodic work in the title track, exactly what the previous Pike was missing.

    Pike 232 - Lightboard: More noodling. Again, some nice ideas but nothing that would make me return to this Pike. Just Buckethead going through the motions.

    Pike 233 - 22222222: Ugh. More noodles. The first tune has some really good moments but the second is just a total mess. Lots of guitar noises and noodling over a weak groove. I appreciate the dedication and effort put into this project but I can’t help but wonder what he gets out of doing stuff like this. There’s nothing in here that sounds particularly inspired even though it’s clear Buckethead is capable of so much more. I’d rather see him take a week off or something and come back with something really special rather than a string of Pikes that make me question why I’m listening to him in the first place.

    Pike 234 - Coupon
    : Finally something interesting. Love the sinister diminished syncopated riffing in the opening track. There’s a little bit of noodling, but the unique style of the track makes up for it. Lots of cool riffs and melodies. Also some interesting guitar effects. The title track is mindblowing. Love that solid 6/8 rhythm and the atmosphere created with the synths. It’s heavy and intense, but also very soulful and melodic. Now this is a great example of what Buckethead is truly capable. The guitar just sings.

    Pike 235 - Oneirc Pool
    : The first album since Buckethead took a hiatus to tour. Been a while since we had a multi-part piece in a Pike. These are usually good, and Oneirc Pool doesn’t disappoint. This is good stuff. Some good riffing and cool melodic parts. Also some nice dynamic moments. It’s still a little too stripped down for my tastes, but the playing is good and there seems to be more direction to the music than in some of the more noodly Pikes. Great build up at the end too.

    Pike 236 - Castle On Slunk Hill
    : Another multipart suite, similar to Oneirc Pool. Very offputting production on this. It sounds kinda muffled. Musically it’s interesting though. Love the jumps between heavy riffing and dark jazzy arpeggios. Once I got used to the production, I found myself enjoying the music on here. The music on here is a little more abstract, but I can appreciate Buckethead in that mode if done right. I like when his music gets chaotic and unpredictable. The riffing in Corridor 4 is awesome. Corridor 6 has some really creepy ambience going on.

    Pike 237 - The Five Blocks
    : Another multipart piece. This one starts with a really cool atmospheric buildup. It’s a promising start. Lots of melodic goodness on this Pike. Another keeper.

    Pike 238 - Attic Garden
    : Nice creepy dissonance to start off yet another multipart suite. Lots of great twists and turns and some pretty sinister riffing. Love the sharp shifts from heavy and chaotic to calm. This is an example of manic Buckethead done right. Also a lot more guitar overdubs than what you usually get at once. Love how the guitars switch between playing against each other and complementing each other. It’s like a musical battle. Some really intricate parts here. The ambient stuff toward the end is also very cool. Nice to seem him integrating that with his regular work.

    Pike 239 - The Mermaid Stairwell
    : Going back to the four song format. These are usually good and contain lots of variety. Love the lyrical guitar tone in the opening track. Dancing Sparkles is more of the funky blues style, nothing too special but luckily not that long. The melodic guitar playing returns in Fairy Boat. Great song. Love his tone on this Pike. Silver Upon the Ocean is more of that funky stuff. Slightly disappointing, but again it’s short so not too bad. Overall 2 out of 4 songs are definitely worth hearing and the other 2 are decent enough to recommend this Pike.


    This decade started off really bad and then picked up after his tour break. Probably not a coincidence. Although I will also say that none of these recommended Pikes come close to some of what he was doing toward the end of 2015. We'll see if it picks up, but so far 2016 is fairly underwhelming.
     
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  11. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    Don't know if Blue Slide is a masterpiece, but it's cool as hell (5*). Really, when you think about it, it's amazing just how much acoustic stuff he's written on the Pikes. There's hours & hours of the stuff; and it's all really, really good. Just another example of what a natural guitarist he is. Melodies just seem to ooze of him. The Mirror Realms tracks, as I mentioned earlier, are a good example of his stripped down shred + bass format that actually works. None of this is going to be truly memorable as there's just too much of it & it's too similar, but all three are decent tracks (all 4*). Amusing sound effects too; kind of reminiscent of some of the stuff on Halls of Dimension (Pike #27).
    I'm tempted to say Cove is just 4* as it's so long & I don't always have the patience to listen to one piece this long. However, it is very good. Lovely mood & atmosphere which I really appreciate (5*). I like stuff like Cloud, the second track, a lot. Amazing dreamy stuff (5*).

    Pike #222 - Out of the Attic? :D

    In comparison to, say, Cove or Blue Slide, Dragging the Fence is a far more low key acoustic effort. All of these are very different from each other in fact. This is a beautiful track (5*). Planted is again a very low key effort, shorter but just as nice (5*).
    Just the most awesome instrumental guitar track(s) I can think of; nobody else has written anything this good. Stunning (both 5*).
    Hmmm, think you need to revisit this Mosh. This is a classic Buckethead riff & mood driven Pike. The production is a little muddy, but it's quality from start to finish. I rate all of this 5*.
    Happy Birthday Mj 23 starts off quite chirpy, but then gets down to business with some lovely riff work, followed by some of the usual fine soloing from around the 3 minute mark. Pretty melodic & rocky rather than too shredy. Again, it has that kind of lead trade-off feel to it with one picking up from the previous one. Very nice indeed (5*). Groovie Goolies is just a little 2 minute filler track with some (probably) seven-string work, chugging riffs, but not much else going on. Respectable (4*). Yellow Brick Snail is another 10 minutes of thoughtful guitar magic goodness. Starts quite mellow but then breaks into this big melodic, but slow, lead guitar section. Got some fierce soloing late on too. Damn fine stuff (5*). Rib Cage Wreath is similar to the second track in the sense that it feels like a piece of 2 minute filler. Again, totally respectable but not offering a great deal amongst the two far superior tracks. More shredding this time (4*).
    How good is Arcade of the Deserted? What a track. Wistful, melodic, pretty track; takes you on quite a journey for only 5 minutes. Seems to have a real story-to-tell feel to it (5*). Swung Vault is quite gloomy starting but then gets all thrashy heavy. Just a totally riff driven track with some big heavy moments. A bit meandering but still enjoyable (4*). Cavernous is back to the soft pretty tone again. The playing on this is beautiful; the soloing is so understated. Lovely laid-back rhythm too (5*). Sank follows a very recent pattern of being a really short heavy slab that feels kind of redundant amongst these other glorious tracks. Again, respectable (4*). Two truly great tracks on this one.
    Listened to this on the way home from work today in the car. I quite like listening to this stuff while driving, but at home with headphones I'm always a little less impressed. All three tracks really struggle to be memorable but it's an enjoyable enough listen (all 4*).
    Cabs starts quite oddly (in terms of mood compared to the rest of the track) but then falls into another gloriously melodic groove filled track; the main repeating melodic pattern is really sweet (5*). Sludging Through the Slaughterhouse is aptly named; yeh, quite bluesy, but in an oddly heavy way. Decent (4*). Styrofoam Cut-Ups has that bouncy feel to it; I'm not overly fond of this but it is quite memorable for such a short track (4*). Now Underneath the Arctic is a masterpiece. Dark, moody, and dripping with atmosphere. Love Buckethead in this creative direction (5*).
    Aye, good decade. Not quite up there with the previous decade, but the best here is right up there with his very best work. I'm looking at you Buildor.
     
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  12. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Definitely happy with the amount of acoustic stuff. Pre-Pikes it was a rarity and I was expecting that to be the case with the Pikes, but really it's more half and half. And every acoustic/mellow Pike is guaranteed to be a good listen.

    Yea I might agree on Cloud being the better of the two. It seems he's doing a better job integrating the ambience with his more musical content, which works out so much better.


    Not sure what happened to that one. I definitely wrote a review of it. Wasn't a fan, but I thought the cover was cool. It's the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, which was taken out of the attraction days after opening and only recently restored. I actually visited Disneyland myself a few weeks after this Pike came out, so maybe I unknowingly saw Buckethead. :p

    Yea Buildor was really fantastic and unique. It's easy to forget some Pikes since there are so many, so it says a lot that Buildor in particular stuck with me.
     
  13. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    New Pike: Operator Q Bozo. Wasn't expecting anymore Pikes until the new release. How many will come out before I finish this project?


    Pike 240 - Chart
    : Awesome melodic riffing to start this off. Some tasteful amount of heaviness sprinkled in to. The synth work is very subtle, but it adds the right amount of texture. Just a great well balanced opener. Things mellow out considerably with Granite Track. This is a cool tune with a spacey vibe. Nice buildups too. Glowing Gate has a cool sinister start to it. A really evil sounding dynamic tune. Great stuff.


    Pike 241 - Sparks In the Dark: Love the acoustic guitar work in the opening title track. There’s a Latin flavor to this tune but it has been twisted in a way only Buckethead is capable of. It’s relaxing but also very sinister sounding. Very reminiscent of some of the stuff on Colma. The Pond of Peace is much less intense. Much more mellow and ethereal sounding. Garden At Twilight is much more uplifting with the bright 12 String guitar tone. It almost has a folksy feel to it. Short but very enjoyable. Would like to hear more from him in that mode. A Long Days Walk has some really cool tribal percussion sounds. Very strong closer. Buckethead knocked it out of the park with this one. Top 20 Pike.

    Pike 242 - Hamden’s Hollow: Uh oh, a shreddy Pike. To be fair, it has been a pretty long time since he’s made one of these, while in 2015 it seemed like these were coming out constantly for awhile. On the positive side, there’s some interesting rhythmic stuff happening. It’s a multipart Pike so there’s hope that it’ll change to something more interesting eventually. It does seem to turn itself around fairly quickly, shifting to some more interesting riffing and rhythmic driven stuff. I like when Buckethead’s music has a chaotic edge, as long as it is not too shred dominated. This Pike kinda goes back and forth with that stuff. There will be some awesome rhythmic moments and then it shifts to less interesting shred. To be fair, the shred fits the music fairly well here. It’s OK, but about halfway through I start to lose interest. It just feels way too dragged out at that point. This is one of those Pikes that would be a lot of fun live, and there are some very cool ideas there, but a whole 30 minute album of this is just too much for me.

    The acoustic stuff at the 7 and a half minute mark is insane btw. I definitely won’t complain about the occasional acoustic shred.

    Pike 243 - Santa’s Toy Workshop: I dig the lego cover. The electronic intro is interesting. The samples are fun, if fairly cheap. It’s at least something different. The music isn’t that noteworthy, too shreddy and the riffing isn’t anything new for Buckethead. Assembly Line of Monsters and Robots: Homage to an earlier album? It definitely seems to have that electronic vibe, but with guitar. Some interesting noises but overall doesn’t really go anywhere. The acoustic sound is really interesting on Winds Through Antlers. So much stronger than the previous two tracks, too bad it’s so short. Love that Flamenco sounding stuff. Blitzen Goes Berzerk is an awesome slab of riff. Santa’s 20 Minutes Away is another fairly boring piece masked with strange sound effects. Same with the following track. Lots of noodling and shredding.

    Yea, these Christmas Pikes do seem to be fairly underwhelming. The sound effects and samples in this were fun and kinda reminded me of Giant Robot and Bucketheadland, so that was nice. But overall it seems like he could do something more interesting for a special release.

    2016 was a meh year. I suppose he was focused on the tour, but while the Pikes that came after the tour were a step up, there still wasn’t a lot of greatness in there. Some really great moments, but overall pretty underwhelming for the most part. Sparks In the Dark is fantastic though and probably the highlight of the year.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
    CriedWhenBrucieLeft likes this.
  14. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Pike 244 - Out Orbit: Collage Pike? This was all over the place. In a good way. Some cool riffs and chaotic moments. I actually thought the least interesting moment was the fairly normal sounding closer, Assortments. Some really good leads though. The rest was a fun listen. Probably would be more exciting live.

    Pike 245 - Space Viking
    : Awesome melodic mellow Pike. I really dug the energy in Litten Well in particular, but the whole album was good. I’m finding myself enjoying his shorter songs more lately, it seems most of his creativity goes into those.

    Pike 246 - Nettle
    : Awesome, a Pike of shorter songs! Love the sheer brutality in the opening track. Praying mellows out a bit with some really great lyrical leads. Things get heavy again with Storms. Great riffing there. I like the way Barren is set up. Part 1 is all riffs and melodies, part 2 is a ripping solo. Nice balance. Open Ancient is a nice short blast of heaviness. Love the twin guitar that starts off Leaving Shell. Almost Maiden-esque. But then it goes back to Buckethead’s usual craziness. Good stuff though. Great Pike, more like this would be nice.

    Pike 247 - Rivers In the Sea
    : The opening title track is awesome. Great melodic lyrical guitar playing. Bucket doing what he does best. The Roles of Uncertainty continues the mellow vibe, but adds some more upbeat rhythmic stuff. Love the lush sound of Other Portals. Some nice lead work there too. Seven Planes has a much darker vibe. Slightly heavy but with a lot of restraint. Good Pike.

    Pike 248 - Adrift In Sleepwakefulness
    : Love the vibe in Dreaming Frequency. Great bass and drum stuff and of course some fantastic leads. This tune ends way too soon. Fortunately, it’s followed by something even better and more melodic with Empty Scroll. Love the way this builds into a heavier sound. Salvage the Fragments is reminiscient of the electronic tinged stuff Buckethead was doing in the middle of 2015. Good tune. More great leads and I really dig the rhythmic stuff. Lots of really strong rhythm tracks on this album in general. Stare Into Trance has a much more uplifting vibe. The electronics continue and work just as well in this song. The closing title track continues the great melodic work. Good Pike, but many of the songs felt too short, almost incomplete. I would’ve cut two songs and built on the remaining four. Although I’m not sure what I’d cut, as they’re all high quality.

    Pike 249 - The Moss Lands
    : Buckethead going for the shorter songs again on this. Things are getting heavy again with the opening title track. Great riffing here. This Pike is not without its mellower moments. Antique Wall has some really nice acoustic chordal stuff. Love the brutal riffs in City of Lutes. Groves has some more melodic riffing going on. Things start to lose steam toward the end with some shreddy tracks. It does end on a high note with Ribbons. Great high energy riffing. There's more shredding, but it fits a little bit better in this track. Another solid Pike, but once again most of the songs feel half baked. Is Buckethead releasing his unfinished ideas?

    2017 is off to a decent start. While I enjoyed all the Pikes so far, overall nothing truly amazing has come yet.
     
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  15. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    :ok:
     
    Mosh likes this.
  16. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

  17. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Pike 250 - 250: Nice new logo. This Pike was kinda disappointing. Lots of noodling. There were some exciting moments mixed in but overall it seemed like a filler Pike. Yet it was his 250th and he felt it was necessary to commemorate that, I’m surprised the music wasn’t that special. Is the number of albums more important than the musical content? Times like these make me wonder.

    Pike 251 - Waterfall Cove
    : And it doesn’t take long for him to redeem himself with this one. Great mellower Pike. It ends with a heavier tune, which usually works in this format, but I found it kinda unnecessary on this Pike. Everything else is great.

    Pike 252 - Bozo In the Labyrinth: Another group of relatively shorter songs. I feel this is what 250 should’ve been. A nice variety of Buckethead’s different styles with solid songwriting, riffs, and solos. This Pike has a little bit of everything and most of it is high quality. The best stuff is actually toward the end of the album. Love the melodic riffing on The Chambers and the Latin guitar work on the closing title track. Nice Pike.

    Pike 253 - Coop Erstown: This Pike was a bore. Lots of noodly shreddy tracks and generic bluesy stuff. The last track has some decent stuff but not enough to save this Pike. I dig the artwork though.

    Pike 254 - Woven Twigs: The dark intense rhythms are an interesting way to start this Pike. The first 5 seconds are more exciting than anything on the previous album. It’s also a multipart Pike, which he hasn’t done in awhile. Unfortunately, the rest is pretty underwhelming. Lots of noodling and shredding. Definitely a collage Pike and one of many Pikes where he spends such a short time on the good ideas while meandering on the weaker stuff. Too bad, because there are some really promising moments here. Also the production in these last couple Pikes hasn’t been great. Seems kinda low effort all around.

    Pike 255 - Abominable Snow Scalp
    : Opening tune is great. Lots of great melodic stuff and I love the blend of acoustic and electric. Lots of nice twists and turns. This song has more musical content in 4 minutes than all of Woven Twigs. Floorascents has such a cool main melody. It’s kinda eerie but also uplifting. Love the relentless heaviness of Headless Reflection. Crator Ridge is another song that runs the gamut of seemingly every Buckethead style. It gets a little too noodly at times, but overall a strong effort. One of the better Pikes he’s put out this year.

    Pike 256 - Meteor Firefly Net
    : Some nice melodic work here. Love when he switches between mellow acoustic stuff and ultra heavy stuff. Lots of that on this Pike and it works great. The highlight is easily the title track, which is very dynamic. Love the acoustic bit at the end of the final song. Pretty good overall, but something about the production is kinda bland.

    Pike 257 - Blank Slate: First song didn’t really do much for me, but after that this Pike gets really good. Lots of variety and each song seems to build in momentum before the explosive closure. Solar Staple has some of Buckethead’s most expressive playing in a long time. Lockun feels kinda disconnected from the rest of the Pike, which flows together really well, but I love that intense heavy riffing. Good stuff.

    Pike 258 - Echo
    : A nice mellow Pike. Great intimate playing on this one. I love how soft his playing can be, so much subtleties. Again, it’s like he’s in the room playing for you. The last track starts out cool but kinda drifts into generic bluesy stuff. A weak closer to a great album.

    Pike 259 - Undersea Dead City: Region Of the Unreal and Moonlit Decay are awesome. Especially the former, so many great twists and turns and awesome melodic moments. The closer has some cool rhythmic stuff too, but other than that this Pike was very underwhelming. Lots of shredding and generic riffing. Interesting that this came just a day after Echo, which seemed far more inspired. Unfortunately, the best moments didn’t really redeem the less interesting parts.

    Decent set of Pikes. Lots of filler and uninspired/dull moments, even in the better Pikes. There's still some good stuff, but even the best moments aren’t particularly noteworthy. The Pikes as a whole seem to have been on a long decline since the last set of great 2015 Pikes.
     
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  18. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    @Mosh, just 6 to go. What about all this, let's say, six months later. How on earth will you remember which pikes you liked the most?

    I for one would be very interested in a list of your favourite pikes. Yes, @CriedWhenBrucieLeft, you too. A fecking list.

    Favourite 20, 25 or even 50 pikes. Let's have it.
     
  19. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    I was waiting until Mosh got this reviewing out the way first. I'll compile a list of my favourite Pikes & try to put them in some sort of order in due course. Just for you.
     
    Forostar likes this.
  20. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Pike 260 - Ferry To the Island of Lost Minds: Always cool to hear him calling back to older albums. The original Island Of Lost Minds is one of his best, so I was looking forward to a follow up. He definitely recaptures the zaniness of the original album. Lots of great riffing and awesome twists and turns. Drum programming is insane. One of those albums where you wonder if it’s a real drummer. Also some really creepy moments. Not a big fan of the guitar noise being left in, I get that he does it for effect but it kinda kills the mood IMO. Part 4 has some awesome grooves. Some of the parts go on a little too long, but overall this was an awesome piece. Very reminiscent of some of the earlier Pikes. I’m glad it didn’t disappoint.

    Pike 261 - Portal To the Red Waterfall
    : The opening title track is very similar to the work on the previous Pike. Great stuff again. Love all the riffing and the crazy syncopated melodies. Spirits is another awesome mellow piece. Classic Buckethead styled riffing in both Roundtable and Crayon Factory. Also some excellent soloing in the latter. Love this Pike’s format: One long epic chaotic piece and three shorter tunes with lots of catchy melodies and riffs. Another winner.

    Pike 262 - Nib Y Nool
    : Another multi part piece. Love the angular chromatic riff that opens this up. He’s really going all out with the more abstract music lately, which I don’t mind. This is enjoyable stuff. Very Proggy at times. The shredding is mixed in tastefully and the music seems really well thought out and meticulously crafted. I much prefer this to him shredding over a generic chord progression or some bluesy riffs. The acoustic shredding at the end is eerie and fun.

    Pike 263 -
    Glacier: The opening title track is what I was referring to in the previous Pike with generic chord progressions and soloing. I suppose this stuff was enjoyable in the earlier Pikes, but at this point I feel I’ve heard it all and it doesn’t do much for me. Relic is so much more interesting. Awesome acoustic piece with some really heavy moments. You think it’s going to build into something distorted guitars but it never does, and it’s better for that. Flood is a nice slab of heavy riffing with a taste of shredding. Love the atmosphere in Evaporate. This one gets a half recommendation. The opening track is meh, but the rest is very strong. Unfortunately the opener is pretty long.

    Pike 264 - Poseidon: The atmospheric synth is a cool start before getting into some awesome crushing riffs. I found this one to be pretty boring overall. Lots of soloing and not very interesting riffing. Some cool mellow moments but they didn’t make up for the less interesting bits. Overall pretty disappointing.

    Pike 265 - Ride Operator Q Bozo: The first Pike after a rare month off, very curious about this one. The creepy noises at the beginning made me think this might be a noise album (interestingly, there haven’t been any since Halloween 2015) but luckily some heavy riffing quickly kicks in. Love the demented rhythms and dissonant riffs in this. Looks like we’re in for a more chaotic Pike. One of those albums that could be used as the soundtrack to a rollercoaster (new Pike category?). It gets a little too noisy in the middle, but luckily it gets back to real riffs before too long. I think this one goes a little too off the rails for me. Like Poseidon, I like parts of it but a lot meanders a bit too much for my taste. But there are some genuinely cool moments. The clean guitar harmonies in part 7 are amazing, and then the guitar lead with the melodic bassline shortly after. Moments like these make me really want to like the Pike, but then it’s followed by less interesting riff ideas. The best ideas are so fleeting, maybe it’s intentional. Overall, the big suite has some cool ideas buried under a lot of clutter. I wanted to like it, but it fell short in a lot of areas. I was expecting something more well thought out after a month off. Luckily this isn’t the whole album. The last 6 minutes consist of a single tune: Ramp Ahead. This is good stuff. Great melodies and crushing riffs. But overall it’s clear that (hopefully) his focus is elsewhere.

    A better set than the last decade, but overall I’m glad he seems to be taking a break (or busy working on Bucketheadland 3). The project seems to have lost some steam, but he’s also expanded beyond the Pikes at the same time. In 2016 there was the tour, and this year there’s a new non-Pike album. So we’ll see what happens.

    And that’s it! Can’t believe I listened to every Buckethead album. It helps that he slowed down on releases in the past month. Maybe he's been reading this thread and is allowing me time to catch up? :D
    Obviously there are some other releases outside his main discography that I look forward to checking out, but for now I’m going to enjoy a vacation from Big B. Stay tuned for a more detailed Pike reflection and a top 20.
     

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