Out of the ashes of the careers of erstwhile guitar heroes Joe "Satch Boogie" Satriani and Eric "Cliffs of Dover" Carmen comes Italian six-string shredder Padovani. Unknown Evolution
, Padovani's most recent set of blistering, would-rock-real-good-next-to-Jan-Hammer instrumentals, seems blissfully out of step with today's current pop music scene. Perhaps because it is so fine a facsimile of the type of music it pays testament to, the record is surprisingly engaging -- particularly in a genre (indulgent and giddy instrumental rock guitar) that treads a territory most music critics have laced with sardonic landmines and booby traps.
The record opens with the fist-pumping semi-title track "Evolution", which is a dead ringer for the guitar heavy soundtrack of the popular '80s Fred-Dryer-as-a-tough-cop TV vehicle Hunter. However, Padovani's compositions are so infectious that the mental associations they draw to dated TV fare come off more as a celebration of hairy-chested rockin' than an exercise in nostalgia. And there is more to Padovani than just an affinity for unabashed guitar riffing: the artist gives a significant portion of the album over to accessible classical guitar compositions such as "Reflections" and "Icelandic Skies". Uniting the various styles represented here are Padovani's strength as a composer and his well-developed sense of melody. Those strengths raise Unknown Evolution above mindless shredding, and peg Padovani as a guitar player who can truly write songs.