Music Reviews

Markus Albert – Les Nuits Blanches

Markus Ablert - Les Nuits Blanches

‘Les Nuits Blanches’ – literally translated it means ‘white nights’, but the French use it to describe ‘staying up all night’. I chose that title because all of the songs on ‘Les Nuits Blanches’ were composed and recorded between 10 pm and 3 am.

While it is guitar-driven,’Les Nuits Blanches’ isn’t just another guitar hero album. Sure, there are plenty of guitar fireworks and speedy licks to be found on it, but they are there to serve the songs and not simply to showcase technical prowess. Melody is the hero, and you can sing along with every single one of the six catchy tunes. And like the nights they were composed in, some are hard rockin’ and crazy, some are sweet and mystic. Rock, Fusion and Blues – ‘Les Nuits Blanches’ draws on them all. Enjoy!

Hailing from Germany Markus Albert is something of an enigma and his music has yet to become very widespread but as Les Nuits Blanches received some positive praise from a respected player like Dimitar Nalbantov I felt motivated to take a closer look at one of the newest players on the shred/instrumental guitar scene.

I suspect that initally it’s going to be of some use to mention a handful of names that spring foremost to mind when listening to Les Nuits Blanches – Steve Vai, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani….but as with any musician of discernment and taste while those lofty influences are worthy starting points they aren’t the whole story….Markus does have an individual style that elevates his playing beyond the comparisons.

Aliens Stole my Brain is a great place to start – while liberally sprinkled with a few Vai-ism’s (Unison bends, slippery legato and wah tones, deft whammy bar use) there’s a touching, sentimental side that breathes new life into those much-used techniques and if some of progressions remind you of compositions from the best era of Vai then I don’t feel that we’re seeing a clone, merely someone drawing on a strong musical character for inspiration and doing so utterly convincingly.

By way of contrasts, The Girl in the Corner is a more laid-back and lyrical composition using cleaner tones and softer dynamics – as an aside the production values here are of the highest level with all the instruments equally represented in mix and the guitar tones in particular range from throaty, expressive overdrive to tube-like and crunchy rhythms and from high gain to textured cleans. Quantumn Cheesecake is a smokey jazzy number that wouldn’t be out of place in any number of cellar bars as it incorporates great unision lines with delicate horns, heartfelt and emotive blues-tinged lines and a totally convincing beat….coming hot on the heels of the much more uptempo Angus’ Feverish Dream No 5 if the intent is to show just how diverse Markus is then consider that to have been aptly demonstrated!

The Tuna Who got to Know tomatoes is a nicely paced jazz-fusion shuffle which allows ample space to demonstrate both his playing over changes, phrasing and chops and the oh-too-short EP is rounded off by A Sunday’s Torturing Silence which takes the pace right down to a melancholic, simple chordal piece that could almost be easy listening but as with all the compositions, it’s too well produced and too thoughtful for that.

Emotional, inspired and intelligent guitar playing that deserves a wider audience.

Rating: ★★★★½
Track Listing:
Aliens Stole my Brain
That Girl in the Corner
Angus’ Feverish Dream No’ 5
Quantum Cheesecake
The Tuna who got to know Tomatoes
A Sunday’s Torturing Silence


September 17th, 2010

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