Doug De Jong lists his vocations as guitarist, producer and ‘dream chaser on the loose’, and while his name may not be instantly familiar to most, his pedigree is certainly of the eye catching variety.
Originally from Brisbane, De Jong has spent plenty of time in the US pursuing his muse and racking up an impressive list of credits, sharing stages with the likes of legendary guitar shredders such as Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, Tommy Emmanuel and Eric Johnson. The story goes that when playing in Steve Vai’s band in California, De Jong caught the eye of Vai’s producer, Greg Wurth, who was impressed enough to master Doug’s debut record, ‘Post Traumatic Express (The Five Stage of Grief)’
With this release, De Jong has bravely created an instrumental, thematic record, which plays as a concept album of sorts in honour of his sadly departed sister. It unfurls and it charms in the form of a sonic story, musically transposing De Jong’s process of dealing with the five stages of grief. A musical therapy of sorts for the artist, no doubt, but importantly also a memorable musical experience in its own right, the record riding tall off the back of De Jong’s exemplary six string skills.
The opening number, ‘Never Ever Wanna Know’ (Denial), lays down De Jong’s sonic blueprint, that of masterfully played, instrumental guitar rock, in turns fluid, floating and flat out rocking. It commences as a wistful, moody, introspective number, Do Jong’s clean, blues inflected guitar lines bathing the listener in a warm sound-cocoon, before morphing into the first of two riff heavy, guitar shredding interludes.
Track two is a mid-paced, heavier rocker with progressive rock undertones, that showcases De Jong’s exemplary axe shredding skills, which majestically convey its explored emotional theme, ‘F12 Resonant (Anger)’.
Next up we hit the emotional depths of the grief cycle, in the form of ‘De Press / On Off (Depression)’, De Jong delivering a darkly rousing, heavy riffing soundscape. While penultimate number ‘Love And Fear (Bargaining)’, lets in the light in the form of a smooth rock intro with funky, moody undertones.
The album’s departing statement, ‘Axe Sept Stance (Acceptance)’ concludes proceedings in a bright and breezy manner, a gorgeously flowing number that brings to mind serene road trips and gently swaying palm trees.
With this record, Doug De Jong has created a moving, world-class, instrumental sonic suite of light and shade that succeeds in keeping the listener riveted throughout. Fans of the aforementioned guitar demi-gods, and of quality instrumental music in general, would do well to investigate its charms.