Ignore that bizarre photo of Dobson in video game / manga / pseudo-Kurosawa ninja regalia on the cover. What you're buying is actually not some cheesy anime soundtrack but rather the disc of a guy who is indeed a ninja of the strings (thus, I suppose, the theme of the artwork, though that spectacular inner liner painting by Jace Tracz would've been a far better choice). This is another of the discs CandyRat specializes in: sweeping demonstrations by a player so dramatically adept that you swear there has to be at least two of him present, maybe three.
Dobson began his musical life in the hard rock / heavy metal realm while studying classical theory. Thus, especially once you hear a couple of this slab's cuts, it's not difficult to determine why the tech-metal and hard rock icons (Vai, Satriani, Freidman, Becker, Malmsteen et al) have interested themselves in his work or served as inspirations. This release hasn't a trace of Dobson's past thundering milieu but is jaw-droppingly akin to what Vai, Satch, and the others aren't far from, once you take away all the effects pedals and screaming amplification. In other words: pure talent and attention to stratospheric levels of intelligent fingerpicking only nominally akin to Kottke but which the master, and Leo is inarguably one of the all-time guitar godz, will swoon over.
For over 70 minutes, the listener is treated to various forms of bluegrass, modern instrumental, world, and classical musics in myriad permutations—and I do mean 'mutations', especially as a certain well-known Italian composer comes in for jumping jiving tribute festooned with harmonics and dizzying rondos in Paganini's Hip (and again later when Dobson covers Niccolo's Caprice No. 5). The songs vary greatly in length, from 1:28 to an epic 9:20, but are uniformly astonishing, object demonstrations in a technique so perfect that nary a note is less than jewel-like, whether placed in slow contemplation or amidst a flurry of ultra-speedy lightning runs.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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