Album Review: Jason Kui – Absence of Words

By Ryan Falla

Jason Kui is a Hong Kong based virtuoso guitarist and product of inspirations spanning from John Petrucci to Eddie Van Halen. With his debut solo record, ‘Absence of Words’ finally coming to America, we get to experience the culmination of many dreams finally come true. Jason Kui has spent much of his young career as a session guitarist both live and in studio, in fact he just finished a 100+ date tour as the lead guitarist for a popular Hong Kong based act.

No longer is the time for work and exposure under other musicians, now it’s time for Jason Kui to shine, and I have to say, this record ‘Absence of Words’ shines brighter than many guitar virtuoso records I’ve heard. After my first completion of the record I couldn’t help but liken it to the second album by super-side project Liquid Tension Experiment. What makes this fact all the more interesting is Liquid Tension boasted a roster that was 3/4ths Dream Theater with Tony Levin on bass (from the best era of King Crimson).

‘Absence of Words’ is simply Jason Kui, yes he has assistance from many extremely talented guest musicians, but that falls beyond the point. He doesn’t have a think-tank of the greater progressive musicians in our era and that fact makes the originality found in ‘Absence of Words’ all the more special.

The variety on this record, despite being only 7 songs, is phenomenal. You get standard progressive shred, you get deeply striking ballads, you get tripped-out funk rock. One of my favorite tracks is easily ‘Dance of Awakening (The Spirit)’, it’s legitimately more Dream Theater than anything they’ve released since even before Portnoy left the band. The off kilter intro that pops in with discomforting guttural moaning, a moaning that could be likened to a shaman in the midst of ritualism.

A lot of this record can fall into some standard virtuoso shredding, there are a few moments where the music falls into a bit of a lull with the rhythmic presence behind the lead guitars. This isn’t detrimental to the music in the long run as there is a lot of variety to be had. It does need to be stated that there are a few moments of less formulated rhythmic riffage that doesn’t so much water down the lead-track, however it doesn’t help it shine as strong as it could.

The most interesting tracks, surprise, are the ones that take to experimentation. The funk-jam ‘Now! You! Know!’ (feat. Josh Smith), is a wildly funkadelic journey through four minutes of unadulterated funky-time-groove. Seriously, this is fun as hell; you need to give this album a listen especially if you’re one drawn to more technical musicianship.

The record ends on quite a moving ballad, the track ‘Moving On’; no matter how much fun you had with the record the somber disposition of the final track hangs heavy over your heart. It truly is wonderful when music can make expressions freed from the constraints of language.

Only when you can instill the most specific and choice emotion in your audience, no matter what field of artist you are, then you can call yourself a true virtuoso.

Jason Kui has begun to make the case supporting his virtuosity with his first record, ‘Absence of Words’.

Rating: 9/10

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Record Label: Prosthetic
Release Date: October 13th 2017

Track Listing:
1. Polarized (4:41)
2. Reactive Impulse (4:54)
3. Morning Breeze (Featuring Rafa De la Garza) (5:06)
4. Dance Of Awakening (The Spirit) (5:39)
5. Squeaky Switch (5:03)
6. Now! You! Know! (Featuring Josh Smith) (4:15)
7. Moving On (4:01)

Total Duration: 33:39

Jason Kui links: facebook | instagram | bandcamp