Sound — 8
Jacob Quistgaard, a.k.a. Quist, is a Danish guitarist who has made a career for himself as guitarist for Bryan Ferry (of glam rockers Roxy Music) as well as his QuistJam YouTube channel, but only just recently released his debut solo album, "Trigger". This is an instrumental record comprising many different styles, and can be compared to similar albums by guitarists like Guthrie Govan and Joe Satriani.
But while Govan and Satriani focus more intensely on incredible shred licks, Quist shows more interest in locking into the groove of the record, and opening track "Science of Traffic" is perhaps the most appropriate opening statement that could be made for this album. While there is plenty of excellent lead guitar playing on tap, it's much easier to tune that out and focus on the intense grooves on this track, and this theme continues for pretty much the rest of the album. The oddly titled "She #Zen" almost comes off as more of a pop tune than something you'd find on a typical instrumental guitar album, with its catchy whistled melody and almost hip-hop drum accompaniment. The playing on this track is quite subdued and almost David Gilmour-esque, but tasty nonetheless. This theme continues through "Rise of Silver" and "Chromey Yum" and much of the rest of the album, with pop beats, groovy bass (including guest performances from Pink Floyd/Michael Jackson bassist Guy Pratt and Valerie June bassist Jonathan Harvey), and the occasional performance from a live drummer rather than a drum machine (courtesy of Mark Ronson drummer Dave De Rose and his fellow bandmate with Bryan Ferry, Cherisse Osei). Magnus Fiennes of Shakira's and Tom Jones' bands handles keyboards on "Trigger" as well.
Unlike a lot of instrumental guitar virtuoso records, the groove sits front and center over all else on the album, including even the typical instrumental guitarist's tendency to shred. This is most certainly not a "shred" record, and there's a noticeable shift in a lot of instrumental bands towards this trend (especially with Toronto band Intervals' most recent album "The Shape of Colour", which "Trigger" at times reminds me of) which I find quite refreshing. The focus on catchy melodies and groovy beats doesn't ever detract from the virtuosic factor, with all involved musicians showing a great amount of talent and focus. And even though this is certainly Quist's own record, he's not afraid to lay back and let his guest musicians shine through in the mix. That said, his playing is great throughout the record, with a great mix of Gilmour-esque atmospheric playing and Govan-esque quirky blues licks. Perhaps the most "shred" he gets throughout the record is a brief flurry of intensity in "Glitch" and a few background licks in "Science of Traffic", but he doesn't feel the need to prove his chops everywhere on the record, which is quite refreshing for an instrumental artist.
The production on the record is quite solid, perhaps even a bit minimalistic with a lot of the tracks featuring only some very basic layering of guitars and drum machine loops. Perhaps a favourite of mine from this perspective is "Be-Longing", with swelling synths and a simple drum beat and occasional bursts of lead guitar and some really nice clean guitar playing and bass work, but not much else. It's not an over-the-top mix, very easy to enjoy, and much of the record is like this. Perhaps the only track that seems to be a bit more of a loud, "rocking" mix is the opening track, "Science of Traffic", another favourite of mine from the record.
Lyrics — 8
Being an instrumental record, there are no lyrics to review, but there are a couple of interesting song titles to mention. A couple of them are kind of odd, like "She #Zen" and "Chromey Yum", but "Glitch" seems to accurately describe the sort of "glitchy" sound of the track with its heavy use of Whammy pedal effects. "Googleonaut" is also a pretty interesting title, and a bit of an accurate description of contemporary internet society.
But otherwise, there are no lyrics or vocal performances to review for this section, and there isn't really any need for lyrics or vocals on this album, since the music does fairly well without it.
Overall Impression — 8
With many great performances and an overall focus on groovy rhythms, Jacob Quistgaard's debut instrumental solo album is something that will definitely appeal to guitar players of all sorts, especially those who are fans of the playing of guitarists like David Gilmour, Aaron Marshall, Guthrie Govan, and Mark Knopfler. But even those who are not typically fans of instrumental guitar virtuoso records, who dislike the noodle-y, notey approach many virtuoso guitarists take with their records, may find this album far more appealing than many of Quist's contemporaries. The pop-like approach with the writing on many tracks, coupled with the laid-back, bass-heavy grooves, gives "Trigger" a bit of a unique edge on the instrumental guitar scene, and makes this an album I'd definitely recommend checking out.