The tricky thing about making instrumental music is this: do you make it ultra technical for the musician crowd, or do you make it more accessible for the average punter? Every once in a while someone finds the perfect balance – Satch had it on Surfing With The Alien – and that’s what I dig about Joe Matera’s EP, Slave To The Fingers. Joe has captured that elusive middle ground where melody and musician-impressing meet.
Case in point: the title track. There’s a propulsive rhythm section and some nice harmonies, some Gilmour-meets-Hank Marvin guitar melodies and even some tasty fast stuff. Great driving music. And there’s a cool but all-too-brief guest solo by Mick McConnell from Smokie.
“Cruise Control” has more of the harmony vibe and some nice chewy lead guitar tone and what feels to me to be a sort of late 70s vibe which I totally dig. In fact, the guitar tones throughout the EP are pretty spectacular. Y’know, the kind of tones that sound the way caramel tastes. Matera’s done a great job of recording everything with enough ‘space’ around the notes, and his signature Haywire guitar sounds killer.
“Out Of The Blue” has a neat blues-rock feel of the smokey bar variety, with maybe a little ZZ Top vibe in the melody guitars, and some nice double-stop work. It sort of feels like a more laid back take on the uptempo bluesy riffage of the untitled 31-second intro track.
The EP closes out with “Face Off,” which has a lodge-in-your-head-immediately-and-stay-there-for-a-month melody, a groovy breakdown section and a guest solo by the legendary Rick Brewster from The Angels.
Matera’s made an EP with great crossover potential here: fans of tasteful rock guitar work will love it, but it’s not simply ‘guitar geek music’ – just good music that happens to be slathered in lots and lots of guitar.