Sound — 8
Buckethead is one of the leading figures in experimental, avant-garde guitar music. Sliding between rock and metal, it's certainly very progressive and unconventional, and strays to try and test the definitions of music in itself. However, Pepper's Ghost is a step towards conformity again as the tracks are much more structured than his previous releases. He still manages to retain the unique Buckethead sound by pulling out those trademark sounds that have made him so recognizable (apart from his bizarre attire, opera mask and KFC bucket). The album also gets rather heavy at times, but complete with low, fast wah and all sorts of effects. The bass mostly follows the guitar parts and hides in the back, but the drums do well in complementing the powerful guitar parts. The drums manage to pace the feel of the track, especially since there are very few time signature changes, something which hard-core Bucketheaders may complain about. Pepper's Ghost is the name for an optical illusion often used as a stage trick in theater shows. Using a large mirror to reflect an identical but hidden scene, ghostly apparitions can appear and disappear to the audience. The cover art, depicting a ghostly Buckethead layered over suprised children, is clearly a reference to the title. The whole set up is very much a metaphor for the album, in a sense. Much of the music is very structured, following traditional common time and pentatonic scales used often in modern music. However, Buckethead's presence is heard on top of these, with twisting and almost unreal melodies and riffs that sound out above.
Lyrics — 5
Since the album is completely instrumental, I'll give it a flat 5 for this. Or I could argue that Buckethead speaks through his guitar like no other, and the lyrics are the music and the music is the lyrics. But I'll leave that for someone else to discuss another time.
Overall Impression — 7
Buckethead's work is rarely comparable. At best one could match it up with highly-progressive metal and the likes of Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment, but more focused on the six strings. There are a number of tracks that stand out, for one, Magua's Scalp. It breaks out into the heavy metal genre with fast paced, palm-muted riffs complete with the urge to bang your head. In this album, Buckethead explores further into the different sounds he can create through the guitar, and less time tampering with the definitions of structured music theory. It doesn't stick completely to the avant-garde and experimentalism that he's worked with before, leaving some die-hard fans disappointed, but it is still an enjoyable album, and a good start if one is completely unfamiliar with Buckethead.