26 May 2022
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Stealphish - Single Review: Auri

04 May 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Here we have the latest single from Cafe Fistfight guitarist Josh Barker in his alter ego as Stealphish. The only other person involved on this recording is his wife Nicole who provides piano for the first 35 seconds of the nearly 7-minute-long song. It was her noodling which was the original inspiration for the piece, with Josh developing the rest of the instrumentation. This single, Auri, has a very slow build, yet the scene is set at the very beginning by the piano and crashing waves, demonstrating there is far more to Josh than just the 7-string metallic attack most of us associate with him. Water and rain are brought back at various times during the quieter moments of the song, which for a large part is built on piano, with guitar only slowing making an entrance yet not really becoming the prominent force until halfway through the song.

Even then it is only with the guitar being gently picked, and it isn’t until nearly 4 minutes in that he finally lets loose with a ripping solo, also ensuring the rest of the instrumentation is also now over the top. The drums are programmed, but he has set up some nice patterns, although as always it would have been nicer if a human to hit the kit. He changes tack again as the song continues to develop, bringing in elements of symphonic metal and Meshuggah, which is all very different indeed to how the song began. Yet, there is still some piano there right at the very end, showing that although the song has changed dramatically it is still staying close to its original form.

The upside-down symbol on the cover is a reference to the alchemy sign of water, continuing that theme, and this song certainly flows through its many different passages and styles. Most solo multi-instrumentalists tend to concentrate heavily on their main instrument of choice, whether it is keyboards or guitar (which generally are the leads), yet Josh shows there is far more to his musical palette than being a shredder. The first half of the song could almost be an Ambient/New Age track in its own right, yet the dynamic contrast of the second half makes the first seem even more vibrant. Yet another solid release from Stealphish, I am really looking forward to the next one already.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Stealphish

Stealphish is the solo music project created by guitarist and producer Josh Barker.

Josh plays lead guitar for the band Cafe Fistfight who regularly play shows around Auckland and although he writes his own parts, the majority of the music in CFF comes from the mind of talented front man Chris Moutter. So Stealphish was created in early 2020 as an outlet for Josh's love of composing and arranging original music.

It's early Days for Stealphish as only a couple songs have been made so far. The sound of the music can be described as "dream prog" as it has emotional orchestral and classical piano often building to powerful lead guitar and modern djent elements.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stealphish

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