Eric Peterson: “Silly String” – an incredible scope and depth of musical vision

If you listen to “Silly String”, Eric Peterson’s 20th CD, before reading the liner notes, you will be surprised. If on the other hand you actually read the liner notes and then listen to the album, you will be even more surprised, because you’ll be expecting something that just doesn’t happen on this album. What does this mean? An extract of the liner notes read: “This CD encompasses various riffs and song ideas covering 2010-2016, finally updated and completed into this punchy, melodic, rock guitar recording.” So you’re thinking, at least this was so in my case, that you’ll be hearing a bunch of bits and pieces stuck together electronically into a set of pretty disjointed and friable instrumental arrangements.

This could easily have been the case, considering that Eric has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in IT Security and works by day as an Information Security Engineer and certified ethical hacker. I would imagine that there isn’t much he can’t do with a computer, including splicing together the most disparate guitar riffs and solos over a drumbeat, and make them sound like properly conceived songs. Well whatever, or however Eric Peterson went about executing the job, “Silly String” actually sounds like an album of ‘properly conceived songs’ – for however weird that may sound!

Eric Peterson
Eric Peterson

The ‘child prodigy’, who’s been paying the guitar since the age of seven, certainly knows his way around his instrument and not only writes and records, but also teaches the instrument. “Silly String” includes a mix of acoustic and electric pieces and some beautiful, melodic tunes, as Peterson shows yet another side of his far-ranging musical persona.

Certainly, after listening to Eric Peterson, few would argue that the man truly has an amazing technical prowess, but then again, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and a host of other guitar heroes have their share of worshipers in that regard. I believe that Peterson’s accomplishments as a composer are what truly set him on a musical pinnacle.

The way he seamlessly combines rock, fusion, progressive, country, folk and baroque elements into his work are what put me in awe. His compositions could be described as pervasive or sweeping but to me, those are entirely too limiting as adjectives: despite his usually dynamic approach to music, Eric’s work shows an incredible scope and depth of musical vision.

Eric Peterson has total command of his instrument. This becomes obvious about one minute into any song you care to choose on “Silly String”.  But what is so striking about this particular album is the beauty beyond the power of the music.

As I said, Peterson as a composer, has few equals. His melodies and arrangements are far superior to most instrumental guitar recordings. You don’t have to play guitar to appreciate the music here, and his technique never overpowers the song.

There are no missteps here. Not one bad song, not one unnecessary lick. From the crunching opening track, to the melodic, reflective closer, Eric Peterson has crafted a textbook of what can be done with six ‘silly’ strings. Sure, there are incredible records out there by virtuoso guitarists who specialize in one certain genre or style, but there will hardly be many albums filled with so much variety, played with so much feeling and creativity.

Essential listening: “Black Ice”, “Silly String”, “Piranha People”, “Mall Walking”, “Corporate Belly Flop”,  “Double Agent Pizza Man”, “Life’s Watermark”.


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