REVIEW: Derek Kortepeter – Compilation Vol. 1 (2014)


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.

3.5/5 stars

Buy it:  Amazon!


  1. I misread that at first. I thought it said “Tibetan singing bowels.” I thought that would be pretty cool. A whole record of Tibetan Monks farting.
    Couldn’t be any worse than those Chant albums.


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