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Tourist experience - 79%

gasmask_colostomy, December 6th, 2017

Have you ever been to a land of miniatures? They aren't all the same, but often they have a city or some famous monuments built as small versions of themselves, so that you can tower above the Eiffel Tower or stare down at the Empire State Building. When I was little, I went to one at Legoland, which is obviously much better than any other land of miniatures because everything is made of Lego. I like to think that Buckethead also went to the same attraction and composed Pike 160 to describe his experience.

There is something Lego-like about Bucky's music at times, not least because he's trying to fit together multi-coloured guitar segments to form a coherent (sometimes incoherent) whole that amazes and amuses in equal measure. Here, the size of the guitar tone is not quite as large as the djent stuff that he was trying around the same time, but it's a more classic sound that still has a lot of power. The decidedly not miniature title track takes up half the release and features some bold riffing that towers up over the listener, effectively reducing us to the status of the tiny Big Ben, while adding detail in the form of some signature hybrid-picked melodies that form an increase of interest in the middle of the piece before a dreamy, drifting solo like the kind from famed Heaven Is Your Home (Pike 150) takes us to the conclusion. The feeling of 'Land of Miniatures' is quite touristy, taking a brief look at all the different landmarks in Big B's rock-based sound and not dwelling too long on anything particular, though also not moving with any great urgency.

The three shorter tracks display some diversity, though none leap outside the box in terms of King B's usual repertoire. 'Loathsome Shape' and 'Triceratoptron' (if you like dinosaurs and robots, you're pretty certain to like Lego too) are well-titled pieces since both meet the expectations of their respective images, the former lurking like a bad idea which, in the hands of Bucky, turns out to be pretty good, while the cumbersome stomping dance of the latter might just be the most memorable experience of the half hour, especially when an unexpectedly fluid solo bubbles out towards the close. 'Way Back When' is suitably placed as the final track, rounding things off with a much more downbeat feel, gentle clean chords soothing the ears before some delicate leads play with the final few minutes, as if the Master of Buckets is getting ready to sleep.

The mix of styles on Land of Miniatures may make it sound a complex and confusing listen, but Big B takes care to attach each part gently to the next, so that the Pike hangs together well and is in fact quite relaxing, despite some heavier guitar and rhythms in the middle. However, there isn't a great deal of risk in this formula and the Bucketlord's often hair-brained invention leaves me slightly underwhelmed. All the same, the songs are good and it's fun to listen to this from start to finish - I can't expect a guy with more than 300 full-lengths to be pioneering every time.