My love for Buckethead as a musician is something that grows deeper every time I listen to his music and the reason for it is a deceptively simple one. Buckethead is one of the few guitarists who has a wide range with his instrument. He can be technical, dirty, emotional, funky, and heavy. Sometimes within the same song and, other times, he dedicates entire albums to each of those categories. Most guitarists tend to specialize in one of those fields only dabbling in another later in their career to augment their specialty. It is truly refreshing to find a musician that deviates from that norm and it can be an endearing quality for music lovers who enjoy a wide-range of genres.
His most well-known song, “Soothsayer,” from the 2006 album “Crime Slunk Scene,” was my first introduction to his solo career. It has the classic hard driving riffs that one would associate with heavy rock, but still manages to be a very inspirational song without sounding angry or overly aggressive. Not an easy task to accomplish and it quickly become the song that I listen to when I want to motivate myself to get something done. The journey into his ever expanding list of releases has made “Colma,” “Electric Tears,” “Electric Sea,” and “Acoustic Shards” albums that surpass any Black Sabbath release in my book.
“Electric Tears” and its sequel, “Electric Sea,” are purely guitar based albums. There are no other instruments other than acoustic and electric guitar. No vocalist and no guest musicians. If you want to experience Buckethead without any distractions, those two albums would be your best bet. Technical appreciation aside, some of his slowest paced songs are featured on this duet. Slow doesn’t always have to mean calming or melancholic like we are used to associating with the word. The emotion that he pours into his music can be felt so clearly and it ranges from song to song. How well it translates from medium to tangible emotions differs from person to person just as much as the emotions that are perceived from it can be. Either way, these albums are highly introspective works that have the power to set anyone receptive to them on a journey that can’t be described as anything short of spiritual.
“Colma” has the same effect, but it has guest musicians on several tracks so it’s not a completely solo effort. “Acoustic Shards,” as the name implies, is an instrumental acoustic album. The general consensus among musicians is usually that you can gauge the skill of a guitarist by handing them an acoustic guitar and asking them to improvise several songs on the spot for you. That’s exactly what this album is back from when Buckethead was 22 years old in 1991 played and recorded in one sitting.
Brian Patrick Carroll, aka Buckethead, portrays himself in a very simple and unobtrusive way to the general public. Wearing a white expressionless mask and a large white bucket on his head, you really have nothing to go on to even hypothesize about his thoughts on anything. Rarely speaking, but letting the music speak for him, belies the complexity of a person that chooses to express himself in simple gestures of creative outbursts.