Arli Liberman is an Israeli-born guitarist and his self-titled debut album was recorded in his new home, Auckland, NZ – following the last decade of shredding all over The Middle East and Europe.
Liberman’s carefully contained guitar histrionics channel the obvious Steve Vai-type influences but, pleasingly, this is not just a full-shred, million-ideas-going-nowhere guitar workout. These melodic lines have been deftly crafted, bent to suit the shape of Middle Eastern percussive flavours and hints of reggae in and around the rock.
Take a track like Ben Adam, the album’s penultimate song, there’s something of the sound of Lyle Workman. In fact, like Workman, Liberman is able to move between the big, obvious guitar-star instrumentalist feel and sound of Vai and Satriani through the more subtle, nuanced styles of Jeff Beck and Alan Holdsworth.
There’s some hypnotic groove flavours to support the fluid guitar voice. And even when it heads towards prog – notes of Genesis’ guitarist Steve Hackett are in there, a bit of Pink Floyd for influence too no doubt – it never falls over into parody, nor great indulgence. The anchoring of the rhythm section is something, sure, but also Liberman’s style glides rather than ever sinking down too hard into the tunes.
I say all of this and yet this album is really only likely to appeal to guitar music fans – but I was impressed. Far more so than I expected to be. The vocal tracks do nothing for me, but the playing across the album is great. I’ll probably never listen to it again after hitting publish on this post. But that’s because I already have my favourites in this area. If you’re interested in the world of the guitar you might like to give Arli Liberman a go. Talented guy, that’s for sure.