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Joe Satriani - Creating the Engine

Most people think of Joe Satriani as a shredder, but in fact he released an album back in 2000 entitled Engines of Creation, which blended electronica with rock guitar

Guitar Studio Most people think of Joe Satriani as a shredder, but in fact he released an album back in 2000 entitled Engines of Creation, which blended electronica with rock guitar elements without losing that characteristic Satriani sound. Combining such disparate influences as Jeff Beck’s Who Else and You Had It Coming with ‘90s electronica artists such as Apollo 440 and the Chemical Brothers, Joe was able to inject live rock guitar elements into electronic music.

On Engines, Joe takes some great jungle grooves, like the opening track, “Devil’s Slide,” and blends them with synths and overdriven guitars to create a melee of contoured, driving tones. What Joe brings to the table is his great sense of melody and acrobatic finger stunts.

On the cut “Attack,” Joe deftly matches the rhythm figure with the drum n’ bass groove, resulting in the perfect marriage of two genres typically thought to be incompatible. The tune, “The Powder Cosmic 2000, Pt. 2” aptly demonstrates Joe’s sense of guitar work over funky loops and features a synth tone reminiscent of Jan Hammer’s ‘70s fusion work. The chill track, “Slow and Easy” infuses many textural layers of sitar and soundscape synth as Joe’s melodic playing rides sweetly on top. All in all, this album exemplifies how guitar can intertwine perfectly within elements of electronica and still appeal to the guitar enthusiast.

Joe was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer a few questions about the album.

What inspired you to make an album of this style? Were there any particular artists or songs at the time that influenced you?
I enjoy making stylistic left turns with each recording project; Engines was the most radical of turns. I was getting into Boom Boom Satellites, The Prodigy and Crystal Method at the time and was dying to work my guitar into that kind of production style.

Did you use your home studio for this project or did you enlist an outside studio to track and mix?
Eric Caudieux and I recorded the record in his living room in Studio City. It was all ProTools and Logic Audio. There may have been a few stray guitar tracks from my home studio, but all the real creative work – recording and mixing – was done at Eric’s.

Did you use digital or analog to record and what was your setup?
I would plug my Ibanez JS1000 guitar into various pedals and into a variety of amp heads, then into a Palmer speaker simulator. Then I used a few different mic pres – Neves, V72s, etc. Sometimes we would aim for traditional sounds, other times not. Sometimes a plug-in would do the trick and other times it’s just all the pedals we found on the floor plugged in and turned up!

What pedals did you use on this project?
We had much success with the Moogerfooger pedals, the Fulltone Ultimate Octave, a DigiTech Whammy pedal and a preamp called a Hafler Triple Giant.

Were there any in particular that really gave you that electronica feel?
The Hafler Triple Giant had the most robotic distortion, totally devoid of warmth and feeling. But, in the context of a song like “Borg Sex,” it was perfect!

What mics did you use to record the guitar parts?
No mics, no speakers! We thought it was a cool thing at the time to make a record completely “in the box.”

Do you have a favorite can’t-live-withoutit guitar processor that you used on this project?
It was most likely the SansAmp plug-in. I still enjoy using the SansAmp designs, both their plug-ins and rackmount preamps. Eric and I would use it here and there to spice guitar sounds up a bit. Sometimes, as in the song “Until We Say Goodbye,” it was the guitar sound!

You can also check out Joe’s incredible guitar work on the funk track, “Hair” with Stanley Clarke on the compilation, Guitar Masters, Vol. 1.

Brian Tarquin
Emmy Award Winning Guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a Top 20 hit in the 90’s with “The Best of Acid Jazz, vol. 2” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10 hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica band, Asphalt Jungle and has scored TV music for such shows as, CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My Children and many others.