Joe Satriani: “It’s important to really identify with the subject matter”

Joe Satriani. Credit: Jen Rosenstein
(Image credit: Jen Rosenstein)

Few musos have mastered the art of instrumental rock as dextrously as Joe Satriani. Satriani’s instrumental records are largely driven by poetry; he uses a broad palette of tones to paint spacious and vastly populated soundscapes, each serving to frame a story told through a language based on musical passages. A grisly, overdriven solo can portray a sense of doom, for example, each thundering note representing an actual jolt of thunder. 

On the track ‘Faceless’, for example, Satriani explores themes of loneliness – “when the person you want to see you for who you really are doesn’t seem to recognise you” – where its cathartic solo “represents one’s true self finally breaking free”. It’s track three on Satriani’s 18th solo album, The Elephants Of Mars, which the Westbury, New York-native shredder said could be considered the “new standard” by which instrumental albums should be judged. It comes from his intention to establish “a new platform of [Satriani’s] own design”.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…

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