Prepare to be amazed

Sean Bodley.

I've been doing this for a year or three now and there's one thing I hear more than anything else.

It's a phrase that crops up with absolute regularity, and I still don't know how to feel about it.

“It's amazing how much talent there is in Tauranga.”

It always kinda bugs me because I don't find it amazing that some musicians here are really good. There seems to me an element of cultural cringe about that reaction, surprise that something so good could come from here.

On the other hand, perhaps the phrase suggests that Tauranga punches above its weight in terms of producing musical talent. It's a sweet idea but I don't believe it for a minute. I suspect we are absolutely average, or possibly below average given that budding talent often leaves at a tender age to pursue musical studies or careers elsewhere.

But just occasionally something emerges to makes me rethink that.

This is a pretty small city, not too much over 100,000 people. Not big by New Zealand standards, tiny by international standards. So when someone produces something musically that is on a par with the best you would find anywhere in the world I have to say that it is somewhat amazing, the talent there is in Tauranga.

Genesis

I feel this way about Sean Bodley's new album Genesis. This is the fourth album of Sean's I've reviewed, all of them instrumental guitar albums.

And while each have been remarkable in their own ways, with Genesis it seems to me the Sean has moved to a level where you can now talk about him as a guitarist who stands alongside his former heroes, instrumental guitar pioneers Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and John Petrucci, whom he again name-checks as “inspiration.” This album is da bomb!

It's not an album about showing off on the guitar, though there are jaw-dropping moments a-plenty, banks of glorious guitar harmonies, breath-taking moments of maximum shred.

But that's just technique in the service of a set of well-written, immaculately-recorded instrumentals, which manage to be melodic while not losing the rock grunt that underpins them.

Sean has developed a truly individual tone and style. That much was clear when you heard his playing on Tim Julian's Southern Utopia album a couple of years back – you immediately knew it was Sean.

Here he expands his musical arsenal with a couple of nods towards rhythm and blues: ‘7even 8ight 9ine' is a pounding boogie groove while there is a brief blues harp cameo from Graham Clark on ‘Here Comes Trouble'. But the sound and style are pure Sean.

The rhythm section

Genesis also features his most satisfying backing thus far with some incredible work from the rhythm section. Ian Clark on bass and drummer Jed Dawkins are outstanding. Jed played with a number of top metal bands in the UK before his time here and it shows in the complexity and accuracy of his playing.

The mix of live players with programmed percussion keeps it interesting and tonally varied while Tim Julian of the Colour Field Studio in Welcome Bay, who recorded the album, contributes effective occasional keyboards. Being a guitarist at this level is no easy row to hoe. There aren't a lot of gigs since the live audience for instrumental guitar rock in Tauranga, or even New Zealand, isn't large. Sean also plays with The Eternal Sea along with singer and fellow guitarist Mark Wright and has been successful in placing some of his music on television worldwide.

And perhaps that's the irony. This is music that has been sweated over – Genesis took a year to make – and which is absolutely up there with the best in the world. And it will probably end up as background music on TV. Don't get me wrong – that'd be great for Sean, and great for the TV show.

This would sound sensational with Formula One cars racing or All Blacks clashing. But you can't help thinking it deserves more.

Check out Genesis on any number of digital platforms or contact Sean online to get a physical CD. You will be amazed. For the right reasons.

watusi@thesun.co.nz


The Weekend Sun has two copies of Sean Bodley's new album Genesis for two lucky readers who can tell us how long Genesis took to make.

Enter online at www.sunlive.co.nz under the competition section. Entries must be received by Wednesday, July 19.





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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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