ULI JON ROTH - Under Dark Guitary Skies
Special Report by Martin Popoff
We spoke with innovative "sky guitarist" ULI JON ROTH about his new album, Under A Dark Sky, which, in this writer's opinion, represents the most seamless synthesis of rock and classical ever achieved. No longer ensconced in a mansion on a Welsh cliffside, Uli spoke to us from his new home back in Germany, ready to tour, ready to create anew, and even ready to paint! But as I said, we gather to celebrate a canny and complete hybrid of orchestration with Roth's unique ethereal form of shred, issued later this month as a new ten track record called Under A Dark Sky...
"Well, that's of course what I was striving for, to do it in such a way that you don't even know that it's a marriage. There are always a lot of challenges whenever I start out on a new venture, because they just seem to arise. And I guess it's just my nature to try and explore uncharted territory, or where there is a territory that I haven't chartered enough, I try to go a bit deeper. And this one really is very much kind of a continuation or a child of all the stuff that has gone before; for me it's a natural progression. Particularly from the Sky Of Avalon to the Symphonic Legends, that I did in '95. In between I did all the festivals with the Sky Guitar stuff, where I was exploring the guitar more intensely. I think on this one I tried to, well, maybe not combine the two, but try to have an organic approach, to have the guitar integrated as a full member into the whole thing almost like another voice. And of course the voices are very dominant. I'm privileged to work with such great singers - Liz (Vandall) and Mark (Boals) - and that gave me carte blanche to write no holds barred vocal passages, which they just lapped up, I would have to say. Not many singers could have done that."
Why this title and why this cover art? What does it denote to you?
"The title is a reflection of what this album is all about. It's a concept album. I think, when I first came up with the idea for this album, like two years ago, when I wrote a lot of that stuff, to me, it's a reflection of what goes on in this world today. Not so much in a physical, material sense, but in more of a metaphysical way. I do feel recently that we do live under a dark sky, and we do live in worrying times, and I felt the years before, when we grew up, like the '60s, '70s and '80s, they were a little bit more carefree. And now so many things have happened on the world stage, and so many developments are taking place, that I think give us a lot of cause for concern. A lot of that has always been the case, but we do live in a very strange time, and I think the album reflects that. And for me as an artist, I think it's my kind of calling - not to use a lofty word - but to kind of voice some of that, in artistic terms. Because that's what I'm here for, to express things in an artistic way that I feel should be expressed."
See www.ulijonroth.com for more information.