Personnel: Tony MacAlpine (guitar, keyboards, programming).
Audio Mixer: Ulrich Wild.
Recording information: The Cottage, Pasadena, CA; The Wilderness.
Photographer: Alex Solca.
Tony MacAlpine's self-titled tenth solo album is his first such effort in a decade, that is, since 2001's Chromaticity. Of course, he's hardly been idle in that period, playing and recording with the power trio CAB and playing in Steve Vai's touring band, among other activities. But that he has returned to solo work and given this disc simply his own name indicates a re-dedication to his career as a frontman. Nevertheless, his extensive work in groups has had an impact. Here, bassist Philip Bynoe and drummer Virgil Donati make like they are a heavy metal rhythm section for the most part, and MacAlpine takes off for the stratosphere, rampaging through soaring riffs at high speed. But he doesn't leave his bandmates behind, always staying within the arrangements rather than just showboating. Back in his earlier solo days, he had finally taken to the microphone for some singing, but this is an all-instrumental effort. As in the past, however, he gives over some time to his keyboard abilities, notably plinking through some jazzy piano playing halfway through "10 Seconds to Mercury" and overdubbing himself in the minor-key piano and acoustic guitar duet that is "Flowers for Monday." He also leaves room for his classical tendencies, although this time, instead of sitting down to play a Chopin piece on piano, he instead comes up with an electric guitar arrangement for Schumann's "The Dedication" to end the album. It brings out another of his major influences for, if most would consider him in the Vai/Joe Satriani school of guitar shredders, his pop/classical tendencies suggest Queen's Brian May. ~ William Ruhlmann