Here is a collection of aome of the reviews I have received for my music recently
As many of you are aware I like, wherever possible, to try and highlight players from the UK and Europe for the simple fact that there are a plethora of talented guitarists who deserve to have their profile raised, and the coverage seems a little less than their US compatriots recieve.
Mark Gibson from Northumberland right here in the UK is just such a deserving artist;
Having started playing Classical guitar around the age of 12, within a year he was performing at School Concerts around the Region, and was subsequently asked to join the local Classical Guitar Ensemble. More concerts quickly followed (including some as far abroad as St.Petersburg in Russia) but the allure of distortion and slippery phrasing beckoned and upon hearing the formidable Nuno Bettencourt perform on Pornograffiti at the age of 16, he picked up the electric guitar. Although currently without a band, he has been a member in several over the years but the extra creative time this affords him has clearly served him well – he’s also a talented artist and pianist!
Persistance of Vision was Mark’s album debut and in typically modest fashion he describes it thusly:
Persistence Of Vision is pretty much a shred-fest, back in the day when I was heavily into Vai and Satriani style playing. It was my first time recording, and so the mix is a bit rough and the programmed drums are awful hehe:)
But it’s good fun.
Personally both the production and drums are really very acceptable….and the playing?
Mark does a fantastic job of capturing the essential spirit of Vai and Satriani, which isn’t to say one should write him off as a mere clone because although at this stage in his stylistic development he does borrow heavily from both those pre-eminent Masters, he has his own musical identity which incorporates some of their idiosyncratic approaches rather than sublimating the former for the latter.
Persistence of Vision reveals, amongst other attributes, Mark’s truly formidable technique which although has certain Vai angularities at this time, is still a cut above the accepted norm for Instrumental Rock Guitarists, and merits a discussion of it’s own. Listening to PoV one can’t help but be cognizant of the fact that while he can of course pick rapidly, glide around the neck with that particular elegance in tapped and legato runs and sweep with aplomb he has a great control of the instrument during slower passages. If there’s more than the occasional nod of the head to his heroes then it’s an authentic homage and I can’t find fault there.
Wasting little time with preludes The Eternal Thinker has a brief, clean-toned ostinato figure give way to some positively effervescent, careering lead passages before drums and a surprisingly heavy rhythm guitar decide brevity is the soul of wit and move quickly on to Chemical Forest. At this stage I would ask to be forgiven for another Vai comparison – in my defence it’s a relatively scare occurrence that I hear any artist borrowing from him without sounding like a pale imitation owing to the complexity of the material however…Mr Gibson manges to do so in a very credible manner. Shredding aside, layered harmonies, melodies played with harmonics and gorgeous clean tones point clearly towards 90′s era “Little Stevie” while an adroit hand with the whammy bar, and a certain attitude in his playing which is at once playful and sophisticated all combine to create very impressive musical expressions indeed.
Fall from Heaven and Spirit of Life are more buoyant, positive tracks and while Fall from Heaven tends towards the more uptempo, Spirit of Life is a more thoughtful and contemplative piece who’s ariose, slippery chordal construction suffers slightly as the drums are most noticeable at this juncture and their timbre simply compliments a rockier approach. A World Away from You sees a return of the distorted guitar with some really evocative neck-pickup melodies over a shimmering chordal backdrop – as a direct contrast to Spirit of Life the drums are much more fitting in this context, and the delayed, tapped, whammy-bar’d lead work, whilst reminiscent, is still superb.
Blues-inspired, chaotic leads and a surfing-style rhythm make Rainbow Tears the perfect place to bring in the wah-wah and souped-up Billy Gibbons style repeating licks…so he does! Adding to the familar formulae with some spoken words lurking in the background, some slightly odd meters and a sprinkling of good old “Right in your Face” speed licks before a goofball ending where the tempo staggers, slows, and then takes off again for a reprise of the clean intro this is absolutely classic shred of the sort that blew so many socks away upon it’s arrival. Too much of a good thing is never enough and Ordinary Day’s unison-bend melodies, octaves and hyper-blues soloing start at a frenetic pace then blister the skin of your fingers and makes way for even more super-high tech stun guitar in the form of Mind Trap.
Don’t misunderstand me – I can’t criticise the ever-superlative playing, the musicianship or the compositions…I love shred guitar as much as anyone and at this point in the album I am quite honestly a little exhausted. This is all humorous, lively and inventive playing (as well as damn good fun) but a couple of changes of pace would have made the overall experience a little easier to bear…..To Mark’s credit Persistence of Vision clocks in at over 50 minutes which is on the long side for an instrumental album and to maintain the constant giddy rush at this level of playing is a great feat.
Promised Land continues with the same overall theme, whereas Don’t Let Me Go is a slightly different proposition. In an album of monumental chops and gonzo leads, the ambient introduction and layered clean guitars (although used on other tracks to great effect) have a distinctly edgy feel which lifts the track into a more personal representation. There are still some highly impressive moments of finesse but the overall effect is of taking a much needed breath before Silver Pearls arrives – this is the album’s last grandstand moment and doesn’t dissapoint for chops, cleverly-concieved musical ideas, some hooks and those obstuse odd-meter, disonant moments which catch you unawares in the midst of a consonant melody. Reflection layers delay and reverb with some harmonic tapping over a simple progression and intelligent use of effects to generate a more soothing approach which stops short of being ambient but is a relief after trying to keep up with some of the lightspeed melodic ideas from earlier.
The Eternal Thinker
Fall From Heaven
Spirit of Life
A World Away From You
Don’t Let Me Go
Edge of Nowhere is far more representative of Mark Gibson in my humble opinion. Once more in his words:
Edge Of Nowhere is more about songs and the music is a bit more laid back
Edge of Nowhere (the track) brings some familiar delays and reverbs alongside a more personalised clean tone to create a drone over which Mark sprinkles some very much more personalised and impressive lines which I have to compare to (and I don’t say this lightly) the late, great Shawn Lane. The tone here is very much more woody and organic with his wonderful Conklin Sidewinder clearly used to very great effect. The use of space and a willingness to eschew more busy and complicated compositions speaks volumes about a player that has made great strides since his debut.
Slip Away continues to reveal more of Mark’s gentle and thoughtful side – many of the guitars used are clean or barely distorted and some of the compositional ideas call to mind the earthy, honest approaches of Steve Morse. There are a couple of moments here where I honestly said “****!” upon hearing some of the solo lines because whilst much less frequently used than on Persistence of Vision, the clarity of production, more restrained tone and let me be honest….extremely impressive chops are hallmarks of a very gifted player to my mind. Listen to me has moments of his more complex edge and a glimpse of earlier influences but once again, restraint coupled with fire-breathing chops and a willingness to play for the song commingle to create a more enjoyable experience.
Small World Pt1 did at first bring to mind some of the sparkling, ethereal moments of the first album initially but I shortly realised that the particular chordal approach had become subsumed into Mark’s style to serve the cause of music on his terms – a fast moving and unpredictable progression that breathes and speaks far more clearly for the lack of clutter. My Everything shares elements of that fusion-esque style I alluded to earlier (oh hell, I’ll come out with it…..Shawn Lane!) but defuses the comparison with some effective tapped segments inbetween the hellacious picking and beautiful tones as he plays some great lines over the changes which once more twist and turn whilst defying the expected course.
Edge of Nowhere absolutely supports Mark’s comments that it’s a more laid back album – Unbreakable is a case in point as it takes a more familiar ballad and enlivens proceedings with a sophisticated harmonic edge, and the full gamut of emotive techniques from polished vibrato, volume swells and bends to a great sense of dynamics. Perhaps a trifle prone to displaying his incredible chops on some tracks (to be fair, so would I) it’s here where Mark proves he can play equally well without doing so and although there’s a brief moment of picked impossibility, it comes as a great release of tension.
Fragile is that great pleasure of many a guitarist’s album – the instrumental without a guitar that shows exactly what they are capable of. Entirely played on keyboards it proves to be ambient but strongly harmonic whereas compositionally it’s a succinct statement of intent which just goes to show how strongly talented Mark is as a musician, which could be all too easy to overlook given his ability. The guitar makes a return in You Already Know and Mark dips once more into his travel trunk of licks to produce some fluid legato lines quite unlike the flurries of picking we are familiar with. Featuring the guitar a little more prominently (although taste retains a level of check) provides a nice divergence from the established feel thus far and his expertise in such that even with a slightly more obvious rock edge it never falls into the technique/cliche trap.
Another Day is a song of a type I call “The Triumphant Ballad” – it’s not melancholic but it has a powerful emotive edge, inspirative melodies and for preference, some rapid playing to contrast with the outpouring of the player’s heart…please note that all boxes are ticked in this case, and once more I find myself wondering how I can pick up some of the phenomenal picked lines. Of all the tracks on Edge of Nowhere, Breathe draws more manifest parallels with Persistence of Vision except for a greater breadth of musical vision. There are a number of fretboard moments of great rapidity and complexity tempered with a sense of the impact that even a single note can have with lends them much great credibility then their (admittedly ridiculous) technique could on it’s own.
More than it all features a completely unaffected piano and whilst lamentably brief shows yet another facet of this great musician who apparently grows in stature by the year to not only encompass other instruments, but to compose distinctly on them. Timeless was the first track of Mark’s I ever encountered and his more contemporary fusion/rock style impressed me from the start. As mentioned before the tone, the technique, the musical ideas….all are present and accounted for – there’s nothing hugely divergent from the tracks already reviewed, but it’s entirely representative of his approach, and equally formidable.
Closing the album with a track that collates all his approaches is a bold move – there’s bare naked piano, ambient clean tones, fusion and of course some dexterous spinning of bewildering lines but Reprise incorporates them all into a concise statement with aplomb and a fleeting moment where a clean guitar reprises the melody standing bereft of backing brings us to a close.
Mark is hard at work on his third album and I for one will be buying it as soon as it’s available – his growth as a musican, melodic sensibilities and let me emphasise this, truly outstanding technical abilties should soon be more widely recognised.
Edge of Nowhere
Listen to Me
Small World Pt1
You Already Know
More Than It All
Edge of Nowhere
Rating: * * * * *
Persistence of Vision
Rating: * * * *
Mark Gibson hails from the beautiful county of Northumberland, here in the UK, and is a guitarist, pianist and artist.
Edge of Nowhere is Mark's 2nd solo album, with Mark playing all the instruments, mixing and mastering and even providing the artwork!
Do Fret takes a look at this impressive CD.
What becomes evident quite quickly on listening to Edge of Nowhere, is just what a killer musician Mark is. It's a comparison that has been voiced before, but I can't imagine much higher praise than to compare Mark's music with that of the late, very great Shawn Lane.
The tunes are all instrumental, with the guitar providing rich melodies over beautifully arranged and atmospheric songs. Mark's guitar tone is, at times, almost violin-like, with a really nice clean sound and a distorted sound that's quite unique.
Technically, Mark has tremendous chops - when he burns the speed of his lines would draw comparisons again to Shawn Lane - but there's lots of space on this album - the tracks really breathe. Blindingly fast lines, legato, harmonized parts and whammy use that brings to mind Steve Vai are all to be found within the CD.
Mark's instrument of choice is quite unique too - it's a custom made Conklin 7 string Sidewinder, with a Swamp Ash body in a clear satin finish, Cocobolo fretboard, Hipshot Trem, Sperzel Locking Tuners, a Conklin humbucker and Bartolini NTMB 3-band eq. It also has 36 frets!
The CD has 13 tracks in total; stand out tracks being Slip Away, with a haunting melody and gorgeous guitar tones and You Already Know, which is at times, reminiscent of Eric Johnson.
Mark is working on his 3rd solo CD. Until then, if you are a fan of intelligent, thoughtful and extremely well executed instrumental guitar, you should buy a copy of Edge of Nowhere.
Check out Mark's music at his website and YT channel:
Thanks to Mark for his assistance!
Edge Of Nowhere - DoFret Review
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Persistence Of Vision Review - Guitar9 Records
Persisting With A Hard Rock Vision
Ripping, speed-drunk solos. Savage, better-shred-than-dead licks. Asymmetrical legato lines. Jarring rhythmic changes. Vai-like harmonies and squeals. All these and more grace the CD-R submitted by British guitarist Mark Gibson, entitled Persistence Of Vision. This guy can play your ears off, and does so relentlessly over 13 instrumental tracks over pretty stock drum machine patterns - but don't worry, you'll be air-guitaring your way through the material anyway. Not to day Gibson doesn't have a sensitive side - "Spirit Of Life" is a laid back, thoughtful number, in which he still manages to inject colorful guitar tones and sophisticated fretwork. Gibson loves to blaze though, so if you love listening to guys who love to blaze, Persistence Of Vision will be right up your alley. Imagining Gibson with a powerhouse drummer on a proper CD release... well it's OK to dream, isn't it?
Mark is currently 25 years old, lives in Northumberland in the North of England, and has been playing guitar for about nine years. He started on the classical guitar when he was about 12 years old, and within a year, was performing at schools around the region. He was later asked to join the local Classical Guitar Ensemble and they performed regular concerts and made a few television appearances. Mark also performed concerts with the Ensemble in St. Petersburg, Russia and studied with many renowned Russian classical musicians. He has studied with acclaimed classical guitarist/composer Gilbert Bibenan. At the age of 14, Mark discovered the electric guitar, and later formed a band, Xylem, to play Extreme, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani covers.
Gibson is currently a member of the progressive/hard rock band everRain. In the future, he hopes to be successful with everRain and as a solo artist.
Guitar International Interview
By: Dr. Matt Warnock
In the world of instrumental guitar the word “artist” is seldom used, though in my experience to the detriment of the music and its players. We use terms such as “shredder” to describe the men and women who devote themselves to the instrumental side of rock and metal, but for some guitarists this title is a big misnomer.
Though we are all familiar with the Satriani’s, Vai’s and Eric Johnson’s of the world, there is a group of up and coming players who are changing the instrumental guitar genre, redefining the role of the instrumental guitarist as an artist, and not just as a shredder. One of these young guitarists, and one who deserves the title of artist over shredder is Mark Gibson.
Gibson embodies everything the word artist entails. He is multi-talented, being adapt as a guitarist, pianist and artist, Gibson’s creative output isn’t defined by the tool; the tool is a medium for his creative output. Whether he’s sketching with a pencil, composing a piece at the piano, or laying down an improvised line on his guitar, his muse is always at center stage, something that is often missing from modern, instrumental rock guitarist.
Artist, composer and performer Mark Gibson recently sat down with Guitar International to talk about his 7-string custom guitar, the importance of creativity and the concerto he is currently working on.
Matt Warnock: You’re a guitarist, pianist and artist, how do you manage to balance these three aspects of your artistic career?
Mark Gibson: It’s difficult, but I try to give each item an equal amount of time, depending on what my mood is at the time. At the moment, I’m really into playing piano and have been for a number of months, just working on building my repertoire.
I’ve spent so much time playing the guitar over the years that I can slip back into it pretty much straight away, whereas with the piano, I need to work hard on maintaining my playing. I find that one compliments the other though, my guitar playing and certainly composing, has improved a lot since I started to play the piano more seriously.
As far as art is concerned, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and I’d love to spend more time doing, but music is my main priority these days.
Matt: You play a 7-string guitar, was that decision in any way affected by your piano playing? Did you want to use that larger range to bring to life the sounds you heard in your head, which you could easily do on a piano but not so much on a 6-string guitar?
Mark Gibson: Absolutely. I had a certain sound in my head and it was becoming difficult to achieve on the traditional 6-stringed instrument. My custom guitar has thirty-sex frets as well, so I get the extra range added to the low B in the low range.
I love that instrument, it plays like a dream and allows me to just play and not think about the mechanics of playing, which is important to me. I had a Schecter 7-string for a while when I played in a heavy-rock band, so I had made the transition to 7-strings by the time I commissioned the custom guitar. The music I’m writing at the moment makes full use of the instrument’s range.
Matt: Do you write on the specific instrument that you perform a song on, writing guitar pieces on the guitar and piano pieces on the piano, or do those two worlds intertwine in your writing process?
Mark Gibson: I’ve done that up until now, but there have been some occasions when writing the current album, where a piano melody has been written on guitar and vice versa. I can hear the finished song in my head usually so I pretty much know in advance what instrument I want to perform the melody or phrase, but sometimes I’ll play something that I think might sound cool on a different instrument.
Matt: You said that you don’t listen to a lot of guitar music these days. This seems like a natural evolution for many artists, they listen to their influences early on and then gravitate towards listening to other instruments, and even just their own music, as time goes by. What do you listen to these days, and do you feel it’s important for artists to listen to and study their own music as they would any of their influences in order to get their music to a higher level?
Mark Gibson: I haven’t listened to guitar music for quite a while, except in the context of a larger band. At one time it was all I used to listen to, especially when I was learning about the instrument. I’m pleased that I did that, because I think it was inevitable that things would imprint themselves onto the subconscious and become second nature. I think eventually I burned myself out on guitar music, and that was around the time I started to play the piano seriously. Then I repeated that same process for the piano.
I get pretty obsessive about things when I’m inspired. I listen to my own music only occasionally, such as when I’m wanting to identify areas where I need to improve and maybe experiment further. I think it’s important for artists to listen to their work for these reasons, but I think it’s much more important to listen to different styles of music and develop one’s voice in that way.
Every musician needs to have their own identity and broadening your musical horizons is the best method for improvement, at I think it is. I mostly listen to classical music these days, and ambient music. I love Robert Rich’s music and I love The Orb, but in the end I’ll always be a fan of rock guitar.
Matt: You studied classical guitar when you were younger, do you still fall back on that training in your left and right hands when you play on the electric?
Mark Gibson: I wasn’t really a willing student when I learned the classical guitar, and I didn’t practice as hard as perhaps I should have. But I picked it up relatively quickly and looking back, I realize that it gave me an invaluable head-start when I started to learn the electric guitar.
I’m self-taught on both guitar and piano, so I’m pretty driven when I’m focused, but I definitely think the lessons I learned when I was studying classical guitar gave me the foundation, from which everything I’ve learned since is based on.
Matt: You’re currently working on a new album, including writing a concerto, how did this project begin and how is it going so far?
Mark Gibson: I had so many ideas floating about in my head and I thought it would be great to combine all of these ideas into one huge project. It’s in its very early stages at the moment, but once I start to focus on it 100% things will start to happen very quickly. I’ve written a twenty-piano concertino before, and wrote some string parts for that, but I’ve always wanted to write for other orchestra instruments, in particular a concerto.
The concerto will be the central theme of the project. It’s totally introspective, and there are no compromises in the music to fit it into a certain niche or style or to cater for a particular audience, as this is the music I tend to prefer writing these days.
Matt: You’ve written lessons for Shredknowledge.com, do you find it’s important to share the knowledge you’ve gained over the years with the next generation of players through online and in person lessons?
Mark Gibson: I think it’s very important, especially as I think I have something to say now. I think the web is saturated with lessons on how to sweep-pick or tap, so I think it’s important to try and come at things from a unique angle.
The lessons I wrote for Shredknowledge.com were based on odd note-groupings, and the sounds that these create when played at a fast tempo. I love fast playing, and I seem to be drawn to this type of music, but it has to say something and not just be speed for speed’s sake. I’ll be doing more lessons for them in the future and hopefully I can expand on these and other musical ideas. I’ve taught in person before, but not for a few years due to time constraints.
Matt: As you move forward, do you see your music evolving into new areas of expression, or have you found your preferred musical medium and want to explore the myriad options within that style and genre instead?
Mark Gibson: I’m really happy with the music I’m writing at the moment and the style I’ve developed. My last album, Edge of Nowhere, contained the guitar tone which I’ve been searching for, and finally captured.
Maybe after my next album I’ll venture off in a completely new direction, who knows. I don’t like to repeat myself though. I can see classical music playing a larger part in my style and influence, definitely.