DEREK KORTEPETER – Compilation Vol. 1 (2014 independent)
According to his WordPress page, Derek Kortepeter is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and alumnus of the School of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. Already, I’n in way over my head. I already find it hard to talk about instrumental music, but I am not a composer, nor a multi-instrumentalist, and definitely not an alumnus of the School of Ethnomusic-anything. So as a knuckledragger off the street who really only has laymen’s terms at his disposal, here are my thoughts on Derek’s Compilation Vol. 1 EP.
So here we go! “Light Within” is the first song, a track written entirely by Derek featuring a whole lot of unfamiliar instruments. (oud, Chinese gongs, Tibetan bells, Tibetan singing bowls, kora, Andean panpipes, oh my!) Derek plays chunky guitar chords over this, which lends it a vibe similar to the guitar instrumentalists that I like. A Vai-ish guitar melody meanders through. There’s a lot going on here, particularly in terms of unexpected notes. Before the 2 minute mark there’s a blast of shredding, and you know that I do like shredding. There’s plenty of that on this track. So far so good.
“It Begins” consists of some traditional rock instrumentation: guitars, bass, drums, organ. There’s a slow groove, and some really nice bluesy guitars. But the guitars dart in and out of different styles, maintaining the feel. This is a 7 minute long bomber, but it maintains its appeal due to the always-interesting guitar. The third track is called “Omega” is an ambient guitar piece, backed with string-like keyboards. I’m immediately reminded of things like Joe Satriani’s first self-titled EP in terms of sound. Although this track is primarily atmosphere I like it a lot.
The final song is a “bonus track” called “Waves”, also an ambient piece. This one has a little bit more in terms of instrumentation, but the focus is still mainly on the spare guitar chords. About halfway through, there are a series of gongs and cymbals, before the echoey guitar is left alone.
So, in summation: I like this EP. Is it something I fully understand? Probably not. Is it catchy and memorable? Memorable yes, catchy no — you have to listen. Sometimes the guitar melody feels at odds with the backing music. Will I play it in the car? No, it’s not that kind of music for me. But I will play it this fall while going for those morning walks when things are quiet. That’s what this music feels like to me.
Buy it: Amazon!