Sound — 9
Sergio SERJ Buss's resume includes working as Steve Vai's sound engineer, and later on playing guitar for Vai. Need more be said? And even still, his latest album, Liquid Piece of Me not only meets but also surpasses the great expectations for a guitarist of such caliber. Mr. Buss has done something that hasn't happened in a long time: absolutely blown me away. And with an (mostly) instrumental album at that! I haven't heard such brilliance in songwriting for instrumental music since I first heard Jeff Beck's You Had It Coming seven years ago. The strongest point of Mr. Buss's album is that he is fed up with instrumental guitarists playing as fast as they can, and strongly dislikes those who skimp out on the musicality of a piece in exchange for fantastic technicality. I like the ballads better, Mr. Buss says. Simple is better. And boy, has Mr. Buss come up with some very musical compositions. Yet, he doesn't let his concentration on musicality let his chops slide. There are definitely areas where Mr. Buss has a little fun and makes every guitarist think, how the hell did he do that? But they don't overpower the melodic content of the song. Sergio Buss has truly found the center of gravity in instrumental guitar music between technicality and musicality, and for that I laud him. There is a story behind Liquid Piece of Me that one needs to know in order to further appreciate the album. In a nutshell, Mr. Buss had become so fed up with instrumental rock becoming more and more technical that he actually had stopped playing guitar altogether for a brief time. But he had all of these ideas welling up inside of him, eventually culminating in a script he wrote, titled (you guessed it) Liquid Piece of Me. Since he has done lots of TV work and was interested in writing a soundtrack, he eventually composed, performed, and recorded the soundtrack to his own script, which was eventually released as the album of the same name. Mr. Buss likes his listeners to actually interpret his music however they feel fitting, and not as concrete as most other music tends to be, and for this reason he loves instrumental music. There are occasional words taken from his script, but for the most part Mr. Buss omits lyrics. He does plan on releasing a book for the record, on which his fans will most likely finally see what he intended the music to be, and how accurate he was in writing his soundtrack. The album begins with Brain Cracked, a song that actually has to be heard to really describe, although I can say that I'm fairly confident that Mr. Buss is utilizing a Sustainiac to create long, drawn-out sounds, combined with volume swells, echo, and distortion, all on top of a drone in the key of Db major. With this being the first song and setting the tone for the rest of the record, it's a very interesting introduction that really wowed me. He follows this up with what is, right now, my favorite song on the album, A Rainha Dos Condenados (translation from Portugese: Queen of the Condemned). He begins with a large, somewhat metalish beginning, and then cuts to a very sentimental, bluesy mid section, while retaining a minor key tonality which offers the listener a sense of longing and sorrow while keeping them involved. All in a 4:24 song! Other tracks worth mentioning are No Cho, Lines and Curves (which features Blues Saraceno), HerI De Mentira, Premonition (featuring his guitar trio, Tritone), Liquid Piece of Me (a slower, cadenza-like ballad that calls out to the listener), A Second Prayer, and the finale We Die.
Lyrics — 7
Mr. Buss is, first and foremost, an instrumental guitarist. And he does a brilliant job of what he does. This is the first of Mr. Buss's albums where lyrics are rather prevalent. As the album is based directly off of a script for a movie that Mr. Buss wrote, many of the lyrics are taken directly from or are based off of the aforementioned script. Therefore to look at lyrics as separate entities, or separate from the music, would be to do the album an injustice. As a whole, the lyrics are quite meaningful, and do a surprisingly good job of fitting into the music (as the music is also based off of scenes to Mr. Buss's script). Sergio does a fine job of matching up emotions and fitting in lyrics to the music. Aside from that, not much more can be said. The lyrics aren't absolutely groundbreaking, nor will they change music, but they're still good.
Overall Impression — 9
I'm not sure how else I can say this: the album is bloody brilliant. Mr. Buss has done a thorough job of creating a masterpiece, and I greatly appreciate the work he's put into such a stunning album. Along with the artwork to accompany the album, the entire package really moves your soul. Keep up the good work, Mr. Buss! This album is sure to keep in rotation on my iPod and in my CD collection, and I expect big things in the future from this graceful and talented guitarist.