Though piano was actually the first instrument he picked up, Bret Sinclair – inspired by the likes of Eddie Van Halen – began learning to play the guitar at the age of 13. By 16 he was teaching himself to multitrack, using Cubase VST. And after graduating from Music College at the age of nineteen, he made music his primary focus. With influences that range from Steve Vai to Joe Satriani and EVH, Sinclair has not succumbed to any particular playing style, allowing himself the freedom to create instinctively. He is simply amazing. His guitar playing is imaginative and expertly executed. He uses just the right amount of slop in his proficiency to make what he does rather unique. Bret Sinclair’s latest album, “The Instrumentalist”, is a fun, up-tempo instrumental rock album. The record’s 10 core songs are a treat to listen to. Jam-packed with good notes, for the legion of guitarists anticipating the records in hopes of busting their chops, it delivers in spades.
The songs offer a variety of experiments with tone, key changes, and melodic excursions, without straying from the establishment of conventional rock, fusion and blues elements. The album is crisp and clear. The presentation is modern: the songs have a rich, organic, and contemporary sound.
The subtle dynamics and interplay between instruments encourages deeper listening, while the songs themselves are varied and cluster around Bret Sinclair’s strengths as a composer and performer. There’s plenty of flash and flourish, and tunes driven via grooves.
The album starts off with “Too Far Gone”, where the rhythm sections and leads are stunning. This is one hell of a start, which makes you excited for what is to follow. “Alone” is languid and melodic with beautiful echoed leads which burrow themselves into your brain.
“Rock To Eden” is pure destruction. The riffs, the thumping bass and the lively percussion make it one mad song. Again, I’ve got to highlight the fact that the screaming leads and shreds are brilliant. The song has a lot of modernity to it, but yet has a retro feeling of old-school heavy rock, and this actually comes with some great results.
A really special song on this record is “Broken”, which just has to be in your list of essentials. The thrusting bass driven beat here is definitely a lifesaver, and a great one at that. The lusciously layered guitar sections on this song are simply fantastic.
“Darkness Rises” takes a straight, driving rock n’ roll approach with hard-hitting drums. The production quality on this album is as sweet as Sinclair’s tone and guitar licks. The energy in the music not only make the album simply mesmerizing, but also absolutely entertaining.
There are plenty of incendiary guitar breaks and harmony guitar parts, but he also demonstrates a lightness of touch which is almost playful at times. This aspect is offset by several complex moments too, but Sinclair cleverly balances the obtuse, as on the manic “Furious Antagonism”, with the accessible which can be heard on the melodic “Fingerprint Cloud”.
His playing is full of diversity, and solos with a wide array of tone colors. He glues together all these elements on “I’ll Just Keep Waiting”, which he tops with an incredible shred.
It’s a frequently multi-layered and surprisingly diverse album full of magisterial guitar lines that constantly draws Bret Sinclair into new musical avenues. As it does on the mid-tempo stinger, “The Guitar Cry’s” – another track, deeply rooted in overlaid melody and harmony.
But even more so on “Emotiontronix”, which takes a complete left turn into high energy, dancefloor rhythms and sprawling piano sounds. As this album proves, Sinclair has an enormous width of sounds and styles included in his guitar play. This album is every reason why any guitar-music lover would love this man and his music.
Bret Sinclair’s musical knowledge, breathless guitar playing and imaginative arrangements still allows for good weightage on all the instruments and nothing seems to be under-performed here.