The Dragons of Eden was made by guitarist Buckethead (Brian Carroll), producer and keyboardist Travis Dickerson and drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia. It was released in 2008 through Dickerson‘s label TDRS Music and remains relatively obscure, lost in Buckethead‘s massive catalog of albums and ignored by hardcore fans of his shredding metal style. Hippies need to wake up, smell the KFC and realize that these guys are some of the biggest talents playing the hard-edged jazz-fusion we love so well. Encourage this sound, demand it!
This is by far my favorite Buckethead album, as the enigmatic virtuoso steps out of the 80s and into the 60s & 70s, constructing riffs reminiscent of Jethro Tull and Mountain, then charging into futuristic prog rock that mixes personas like Umphrey’s before embarking on a space walk or revving up the dance floor with a Grateful Dead-inspired organ solo. Add in Cameron Stone on cello for a few tracks and you have yourself a movin, groovin masterpiece.
This is funky Buckethead, forcing himself out of his comfort zone and away from the signature sounds and tendencies that run through all of his other work. Keeping the speed and precision, he does a study in these other styles, as if to prove that he could be the best jamband guitarist in the scene if he wanted to be. Compared to other projects, he makes more room for the other musicians and instruments; there are as many solos for the keys as for the guitar, and he writes interesting basslines instead of basic backdrops for spotlighted lead work.
The keyboards really stand out. Where did this guy come from? Apparently Travis is mostly a studio musician, having produced many projects for Buckethead, and playing keys on several. Buckethead, and other artists such as Viggo Mortensen, release experimental music free of big-label influence and demands through Dickerson‘s label at their own pace. He’s had a hand in many great albums, but his talents on the synth have never been showcased like this.
In a genre that releases so few studio albums that we want to listen to all the way through again and again, this is a gem. I wanna hear these tracks ripped live, spiraling off into improvised exploration.. I’ve included much of the album above because everyone has to hear it, make sure to buy it here and support these mad geniuses! Here’s some video from the first Bonnaroo, where I first encountered Buckethead destroying this kind of stuff with Les Claypool, Bernie Worrell and Brain:
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