|©1999 Virtuoso Records
1. Icarus Suicide
2. Anthropomorphic Pancake
5. Midnite Jam
6. Cause We've Ended As Lovers
7. No Turnin' Back
William Stravato is an Italian rock/fusion guitar player with a GIT education, a nice basic guitar tone that can still occasionally be discerned under layers of effects, a bad case of Greg Howe-itis, and talented friends like Brett Garsed to play and tour with. He's also afflicted with the English-speaking-tourist-who-thinks-it's-cool-to-spell-things-funny disease ("Midnite Jam", "No Turnin' Back").
The tunes on Survivor, his solo debut, are fairly standard modern rock fusion à la Greg Howe. Stravato's playing has all the characteristics of a GIT-trained guitarist, including a constant, invariable vibrato wider than the Nile in the rainy season, about five hundred effects all going at once, a filter wah-wah pedal to make his tone extra obnoxious ("Anthropomorphic Pancake"), and a wide array of sweep-and-tap licks.
What he lacks is the personality, musicianship and superhuman technique exhibited by those folks who TEACH or give masterclasses at GIT and similar institutions (Howe, or Stravato's tour mate Brett Garsed). His super-fast runs are fast, but they're also just sloppy enough to be irritating, and generally pretty gratuitous and shallow. "No Turnin' Back", for example, is an embarrassing sweep-picking exercise where Stravato appears to be barely hanging on to his pick, with questionable placement and approximately zero musical value. The album's closer, a ballad titled "Isolation", is an ostensibly acoustic piece with what must be the absolute worst guitar, keyboard and piano tones ever recorded, complete with fake violins, pseudo-piano and a criminally over-processed electric-acoustic guitar with skinny strings and delay so loud you can't distinguish the main melody line from the echo.
His cover of the Jeff Beck classic, "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", is the low point of this album (yes, low point, even though his Stravato's intent was likely to be all cool and deferential). He and the band play it way too fast, and (the horror!) 100% in the pocket, with none of the original's deliberately loose rhythmic placement. He also lacks Beck's legendary touch, and his manic shred vibrato just ruins everything.
Survivor is to fusion what McDonald's premium brew (also known as Seattle's Best) is to a gourmet coffee house's latte: not a complete disgrace, but still fast-food grade java. The only reason to listen to this record is if you're a Brett Garsed completist who must have every note the Aussie has ever put to tape. Everyone else should pass.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 11/2007