Joe Satriani may have retained the services of keyboardist Mike Keneally for Shockwave Supernova, the guitarist's 15th studio album -- Keneally has been in Satch's orbit for a while now -- but he chose to invite bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann (from the inventive instrumental rock band the Aristocrats) to be his rhythm section for the bulk of the record. This slight shakeup reinvigorates Satriani, who already sounded spry on Unstoppable Momentum. Where that record hearkened back to his '80s heyday, splitting time between arena-friendly riffing and lyrical solos, Shockwave Supernova exists in the heady world of intricate time signatures and elastic instrumental interplay; it is more the child of pre-MTV AOR -- a world where Rush and Allan Holdsworth split time on the stereo of MAD Magazine readers. It's proud egghead music that grooves on its own technical acumen, where Satch and company love to mess with expectations by sliding into a swinging blues groove or dabbling in a bit of bossa nova. What matters, as it always does on a Satriani album, is the instruments, but more so than on his other records, Shockwave Supernova feels like a collaborative record; it's as fun to hear him play with his band as it is to hear him soar on his own. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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