Gary Kuhstoss: Renewal, (CD, 38:51); Lonesome Owl Music LO-9901, 1999 Contact info: P.O. Box 6206 Lindenhurst, IL 60046, USA Email: email@example.com Cyberhome: http://home.sprynet.com/~gartoss/ Renewal offers fine rock guitar instrumentals with added layers of midi sequencing and drum programming. David Cho guests on "Reunion" with additional guitars. Kuhstoss cites the inspiration of Al Di Meola, Michael Schenker, and Uli Jon Roth. I also hear that David Chastain style in Kuhstoss' shreds. What will be unique to many ears is how Kuhstoss manages to put his compositions together. Pleasant surprises of novelty are to be enjoyed here. A great deal of spirit and soul go into this guy's work. Kuhstoss’ tone, attack, and sustains show that Ronnie Montrose muscle and know-how. I found the 8:46 “Renewal” and the 5:19 “Sand” to have a strong pull on the ear for melodic guitar finesse. Yeah, the guitar-driven, no vox, riff upon riff, chops-heavy releases have deluged us but I found Kuhstoss’ writing above par with the rest of the lot. He changes up things enough with “movements” and varied colorings of sound that you don’t find yourself reaching for the remote to switch discs. In all honesty, I heard little of that Al Di Meola voicing, muffled percussive riffage, or explosions of speed. What I did heard was Montrose, Roth, Chastain, and even some Djam Karet, (sample “Looking Back”). Drums, though not real-world were not obtrusive nor snooze-worthy. You actually didn’t notice their being programmed too often, which works for me. Tracks 5 through 7, 12:56 worth of more guitar-driven rock, were less inventive composition-wise, and added little to the disc’s punch save to demonstrate Kuhstoss handles his axe and mixing equipment equally well. Track 7, “Flower” is 2:18 worth of tension release in an acoustic outro mode finally echoing Di Meola’s mellow side. I look forward to Kuhstoss’ new work and encourage folks to check him out. A good job in most respects weighing in about 8.2 outta 10. ~ John W. Patterson
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