Sound on Canvas is the debut album from The Dani Vargas Group, an instrumental rock fusion trio based in Houston, Texas. Formed in the summer of 2010 by Chilean guitarist Danilo Vargas, with musicians Moises Zapata (drums) and Carlos Soriano (bass).
I often get guitarists submit their work for review on Fretpoint but it was a real pleasure to discover a record like this. Sound on Canvas is probably the most exciting instrumental album I’ve heard since Satriani’s Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. Whilst the influences of Satriani and Andy Timmons are present across this album, Dani really stamps his own personal style throughout this record and displays some incredible guitar playing that is as diverse as it is melodic.
Opening track ‘Suspension’ is a statement to say the least. It’s Jamiroquai bass line intro soon gives way to an intense techno guitar lick which truly cements Dani’s technical ability as a guitarist. The furious riffing and interesting octave effects give this track a driving intensity that demands your attention.
Crimson Sundown however is the track that really impressed me and shows how Dani can combine beautiful melodies with interesting sonic landscapes. A great track to drive to, Crimson Sundown really does evoke that perfect sunset.
‘Portrait in blue’ is the track that Dani is most proud of on the record and represents an intimate conversation between two lovers which is portrayed by the careful phrasing throughout the verse and chorus. It’s very rare to hear a guitarist convey such emotion through their lead work.
‘Sound on Canvas’ has a cool jazz vibe which precedes some Santana-esque solo work which contains some beautifully fluid guitar lines. Tracks like these show just what a great all round musician Dani Vargas is. Just check out the flamenco section on the title track to see just how comfortable he is across musical genres.
The album isn’t short of rockers however and ‘Tracks in Motion’ is a belter, soaring along like a sleek corvette. ‘Road To Nowhere’, ‘Colours’ & ‘The Trip’ also power along and must sound incredible live.
This is a fusion album though and before you know it your plunged into the deep south with the way too short ‘Brush of Blues’. I would have liked to have heard Dani explore this further.
Ultimately this is what sets him apart from the many technical rock guitarists out there. The lyricism and phasing in his music along with his melodic approach make this album very easy to listen to. Guitarists looking for inspiration should look no further, Sound on Canvas is something very special and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Dani Vargas Group have up their sleeve next.
You can listen to Sound on Canvas free via Reverb Nation.