I am not naturally inclined to love shred… Obviously I often listen to some classic albums of the genre but it represents only a small part of my daily dose of music! So when I’ve received the album P.U.L.S.E. by Alex Ehrsam, French guitarist signed on Shredguy Records, I almost was in a yet-another-shred-record-that-I-never-will-listen-again kinda mood! Yet I was curious enough to head to the stereo and give it try!
Let me tell you! The fact that Alex is on Shredguy Records is misleading, and here is why:
- Alex Ehrsam’s guitar playing is obviously technical but this is just one facet of his skills.
- The atmosphere of the album is mostly about Jazz Rock or Fusion… Call it as you wish but it puts the groove first.
- There is a real band with him unlike many albums of young instrumental rock guitarists (Ok I admit this is not the best argument ever!).
- He plays on a Stratocaster which is not the most common choice for a shredder!
I loved this album because it mostly brings out funky grooves thanks to the quality rhythm section driven Anh-Quàn Lê’s bass, and Olivier Wilhelm’s drums! On top of this foundation, Alex recorded all the rhythm guitars tracks (except on Morning Cigarette played by Thomas Gutherlé). Alex rhythmic approach is heavily influenced by Funk, and he’s Stratocaster tone fits perfectly for that purpose!
But the most exciting part of Alex playing is about his lead guitar parts that are heavily influenced by what I could name heavy jazz fusion. Alex playing is technical no doubt about it but he still manages to regularly include melodic breaks into songs or even full melodic tunes (such as the melancholic Time Sensitive). Many of these light, and atmospheric melodic traits act like real earworms. They stick in your mind long after listening them which is often a sign of some intrinsic quality.
Alex Ehrsam’s P.U.L.S.E. is an instrumental guitar album that does not contain any bit of Metal or supra-heavy riffs. It rather delivers a musical orgy of jazz, rock, and funk. While listening to the album some names of possible influences popped in my mind like Greg Howe, Scott Henderson, Joe Satriani (on some melodic traits) or Vernon Reid (some à la Coltrane guitar traits really reminded Vernon Reid’s approach to soloing).
In a few words, I’d highly recommended this album to those who are looking for instrumental rock that put a bridge between a certain tradition of instrumental jazz, and modern shredding guitar.