Bernd Steidl


Psycho Acoustic Overture

Bernd Steidl - Psycho Acoustic Overture ©1992 Shrapnel
1. Irrlichter
2. Cobra Negra
3. The Death Of Ludwig II
4. Walburg's Night
5. La Campanella
6. In Venice
7. Metamorphoses
8. Jeux D'eau
9. Eine Kleine Bassmusik
10. Papillon
11. Will-O-The-Wisp

Wow. This was my first reaction when I first listened to this album and to this day, almost ten years after its release, I'm still blown away. In a nutshell: an album of majestic neo-classical compositions centered around nylon-string guitar, along with drums and bass, grand piano, harp and operatic female vocals.

This is no mere Malmsteen clone, though, as the compositions are devoid of that shlock-metal that makes Yngwie's vocal songs so appalling at times: Steidl is before anything a great composer and arranger. Guitar-wise, his technique is jaw-dropping, even in a world filled with faster-than-light guitarists - one need only hear the unbelievable solo studies, "Irrlichter" and "Will-o-the-wisp" at each end of the CD, to understand that Steidl means serious business. Another incredible piece is his harp-guitar duet, "Jeux d'eau", in which he doubles the harp's arpeggios note-for-note at blinding speed. But again, speed is only one of the ingredients.

This album is an absolute must-have for anybody who enjoys dark, brooding instrumental music, neo-classical music, and/or guitar music in general. It is really hard to find in stores, but Shrapnel still has it on their most recent catalogue. Definitely worth tracking down.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 03/2001

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Burnt Steel

Bernd Steidl - Burnt Steel ©2001 KDC Records
1. HRX
2. Made In Germany
3. Cobra
4. Paganiniana 1
5. Paganiniana 2
6. Apocalypse
7. Albinoni Adagio
8. Dreams
9. European Heaven
10. White Nights
11. Odyssey
12. The Bunker
13. Infinity
14. Cyberworld
15. Scriabin

Steidl is back, after an almost ten year hiatus during which little was known about his activities and no new albums were released, much to the dismay of those of us who had been permanently traumatized by his first album Psycho Acoustic Overture. For the uninitiated, Steidl is an acoustic guitarist and composer of neo-classical music blending European classical themes and orchestration with more modern rock influences into a relatively traditional instrumental song format. And his guitar technique is absolutely stupendous. Since the mid-1970s fusion explosion, the technical bar has been raised album after album by such nimble-fingered types as Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, Tony MacAlpine, Brett Garsed, Chris Poland, Greg Howe and many others. Even in this context, Steidl stands out as an physical anomaly, much the way Buckethead does - except that Steidl also happens to be an excellent composer and arranger, which brings him closer to Poland and Lane than to the myriad contentless shredders out there. And Burnt Steel amply demonstrates both talents.

Burnt Steel is comprised of Steidl's original neo-classical compositions and lavish violin and vocal heavy orchestrations, as well as a few actual classical themes by Paganini, Albinoni and Scriabin arranged into solo guitar or piano pieces ("Paganiniana" 1 and 2, "Scriabin") or all-out orchestral ("Albinoni Adagio"). The record exudes a hard-to-define but compelling sense of European identity. Steidl also reprises one of the most exciting pieces off his first record, "Cobra" (aka "Cobra Negra") with a revamped arrangement and guitar parts.

Steidl's musicianship has evolved in the decade since his debut; he now primarily plays steel-string acoustic guitars, and has added a few new tricks to his playing (mostly sweep-picking and Django Reinhardt-like right-hand chordal strumming, as showcased in "Paganiniana 2"). The album features less vocal work than his debut did, and incorporates a few "modern" elements in the drum patterns ("Apocalypse", "Cyberworld").

Burnt Steel is an excellent follow-up to Psycho Acoustic Overture and you should order your copy now from Steidl's website. You'll be missing out if you don't.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 03/2001

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