Paul Kump has been diligently practicing the electric guitar since the early 90's and has now played all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago. Paul recently won Steve Vai's Best in Shred Contest, allowing him the opportunity to open for the three-time Grammy Award winner. Paul also competed in Guitar World's nation-wide Judas Priest-judged Shred the Web II Contest in which he placed in the finals. Paul's influences include Randy Rhoads, David Gilmour, Tom Morello, Buckethead and Frank Gambale. Currently, Paul studies under jazz fusionist and mentor-to-the-greats Pebber Brown and plays guitar for experimental rock outfit Jussy.
Having taken apart the electronics in his beloved guitar as a child, Paul's love for the electric guitar fueled his studying of electrical engineering and completion of a Ph.D. in said discipline. After graduating from the University of Iowa and completing a post-doc at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Paul moved to Queens, NY and is a professor at SUNY Maritime. Paul teaches guitar lessons out of his Astoria apartment and gives online lessons via Skype. Interested students can email Paul for more information.
Perhaps the most iconic moment involving an electric guitar, post-Hendrix, is still when Slash gets on top of a piano in Guns 'n' Roses “November Rain” video. (And yes, that's the original Victoria's Secret model in a coffin. She was dating the singer.)
It helps to view Horse's debut solo album, Perfect Square, through the prism that is Slash, since they both shred at the intersection of the pop/rock Venn diagram. And given that Horse's riff on “Always a Rose (1986 Remix) (Remix)” recalls Michael Jackson, it should be noted that back when the King of Pop ruled the airwaves, it was through him that guitar-shredders like Horse entered popular music.
At the very least, MJ knew what a song needed. So while the disco-funk of Off the Wall could probably be replicated live with one very expensive keyboard, Jackson predicted that our collective disco hangover demanded sounds considerably dirtier. And for instrumentals that really ripped, Michael would routinely turn to the raw toughness of the electric guitar, featuring Eddie Van Halen, Steve Stevens, and Slash on “Beat It,” “Dirty Diana,” and “Give Into Me” respectively.
Slash features on Jackson tracks were more prominent in memory than realty, as peak Guns 'n' Roses just so happened to coincide with televised anniversary celebrations of MTV's Video Music Awards (10th anniversary) and Michael himself (30th). But given guitarists' star-turns for Michael – most recently, Orianthi for This Is It – it was not a surprise when Buckethead played and even danced to the gloved one. [Dancing; playing.]
So Horse's melodic homage to MJ was not surprising. But Horse including a pop signifier on his debut solo album is also consistent with his Jussy gig, which has always been pop. (The only thing non-pop about Horse could be one of his guitar mentors, jazz master Pebber Brown.) Jussy truly built a band around Horse, replacing both chords and vocal hooks with shreddy riffs and guitar solos, guaranteeing a whole lot of Horse within the confines of decidedly pop music. Indeed, you just might hear more Horse shredding in a three-minute Jussy track than across eight minutes of Jimmy Page's “Stairway to Heaven.”
On Perfect Square, Horse's “Always a Rose” solo places it squarely within “first wave” Jussy. First wave Jussy was all single-track shreddy runs chock-full of melody dumps. Likewise, the “Rose” solo – blistering as it is for a full minute (from 1:15 to 2:15) – is played on just one guitar track. By contrast, second wave Jussy has Horse playing up to 8 guitars at once. But because the dude only has two hands, Perfect Square was written with live replication in mind. So what you hear on Perfect Square will be what you see Horse play live.
We still get small doses of layering (2:12 to 2:24 of “Plectrum Head”), which made pop music so memorable on Faith No More's “Epic” (at 2:22) and Avenged Sevenfold's “Nightmare” (at 3:17). But the focus is still single-track guitar virtuosity, and Perfect Square features plenty. A descendant of the Marshall Harrison school of “swybrid” picking (combining hybrid- with sweep-picking to optimize pick-hand efficiency), we get a healthy dose of that technique on “Shirt Flat Drop II.” Horse is also a bit of a tone whore, like EVH, and this sonic purity can be heard throughout the album. To wit, the down-temple middle section of “Jog in Place” (2:28 to 3:45), which is nearly as breathtaking as Buckethead's ambient entry Colma. Horse experiments with time-changes on one song, the aptly named “The Skokie Swift.” (Chicago's yellow “Skokie Swift” is unique among CTA train lines for, at one time, drawing electricity from overhead wires instead of a third rail.)
Horse also memorably shreds the JerryC version of Canon Rock, which is based on Pachelbel's Canon. And it is these types of covers that audiences will remember. It can be difficult for guitar-shredders to make their way into word of mouth. After all, how does a layman describe the intricacies of a virtuoso guitar performance when he knows little of guitar technique or music theory? So something like Buckethead's “Star Wars” not only turned me into a fan of the artist; it also equipped me to proselytize, spreading the gospel of Buckethead by talking about Star Wars instead of 10-finger tapping. Horse did this initially with “Flight of the Bumblebee”; it didn't make the cut on Perfect Square, but we'll just shout it out like “Free Bird” until it becomes a live set staple.
From the snazzy 80s of “Tessa Harmony,” which will no doubt score the Top Gun sequel, to the melancholic “Jog in Place,” Perfect Square is an accomplished debut – one that can be perfectly replicated live.
--Jim Pembry [http://www.popmatters.com/archive/contributor/1038/]