A chops monster (Guitar One Magazine)
Yeah, I would say you could play a little. Wow! Nice work, man! (John Page, Co-Founder of the Fender Custom Shop)
You're doing the right thing (Scott Henderson)
Yo freaking awesome tracks bro. Love it (Calvin Weston, drummer for Ornette Coleman, James "Blood" Ulmer, and Vernon Reid's Free Form Funky Freqs)
Fucking Show-Off (Bill Brown, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, RIP)
Amazing! (Linus of Hollywood)
Onward Ego! (Bruce Campbell)
Rock on! Love it! (Couch Guitar Straps)
Infinite Ego is a solo artist and the author of Precision Plectrum Control (4th Edition). IE’s musings and instructional materials have been used by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), cited in scholarly works, featured in guitar publications, and distributed to students and enthusiasts around the world. IE currently holds forth at GtrOblq.com (your current location). If you're on Facebook, swing by and join the party.
IE has meddled with electric, acoustic, fretless, and microtonal (19-TET) guitars; bass; guitar synth; lap steel; banjo; oud; sarod; drums and various percussion instruments.
In the distant past IE was a student of various guitar teachers including the late Bill Brown (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), learned jazz theory from a Berklee dude, and most recently studied improvisation with GIT instructor Scott Henderson of Tribal Tech fame. From the early 1990s through 2001 IE gigged around the Kansas City area in various roots-progressive bands. Savior Onasis (sometimes Savior Onassis) formed in 2002 and gave their first performance at the Beaux Arts Festival in KC.
IE was the Director of KronoSequence, a creative arts, improvisation, and multimedia project at the Kansas City Art Institute (2001-2003) and doyen of the now defunct online, creative guitar collective, Kronosonic.
Today, he rocks out at AFTR Sound and is teaching students how to shred.
Inspired by the unadorned, bombastic thrashings of Neil Young and Crazy Horse as well as the socio-political fusillades of Jimi Hendrix, etc., IE began fumbling with his dad's ukulele in the late 70s and got his first guitar in 1980 -- and his first good guitar in 1982. Enervated by the traditional blues and cover band route, IE was born again in the late 80s by the appearance of Vernon Reid and Living Colour:
“I was putting on my shoes and heading off for work one day when I heard this crazy guitar solo on TV; I watched and listened in disbelief, called in sick, and pulled my guitar out from under my bed, dusted it off, and tuned up. From that point on I began investigating avant garde and unconventional guitar music. I never gave up my passion for music like Neil Young and Hendrix but I want to enrich those rock currents with unconventional elements derived from individuals and bands that I discovered along the way such as Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Naked City, Vernon Reid, Mr. Bungle, Praxis, Buckethead, Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Marc Ribot, Fred Frith, Hans Reichel, Sonic Youth, among many others.”
As a university professor, I published many academic books, journal articles, editorials, chapters, and encyclopedia entires, but you're probably here for Precision Plectrum Control (4th Ed.).
Nineteen Days in the Gulf of Silence (Compilation, 2003)
Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom (2004)
God, Guns, and Guts (2005)
Red Guard (2005)
Move Like You Got A Porpoise (Live at the 2001 Beaux Arts Festival)
The Unraveling Begins (Compilation, 2008)
I contributed some guitar to the new Hospital Ships album, The Past is not a Flood (2016). Check it out:
There's a lot of material up on my YouTube Page.
Tools of the Tirade
IE gets work done at AFTR Sound (kinda like the Fortress of Solitude without all the ice) with a ton of different guitars, amps, effects, synths, and computers, and whatnot.
IESO and earlier incarnations have been featured, spotlighted, profiled, showcased, and poked and prodded at Guitar One, Guitar 9, Unfretted, Art Whore, Dead Angel, MP3.com, Zebox, Weirdsville Radio, Chops From Hell, Garage Band, and Sea of Tranquility.
“A chops monster.” Guitar One
“...combine progressive guitar chops and adventurous feats of guitar synthesis with an obvious attentiveness to the compositional design of the song, and you have a foundation for great music. This is one of Ego’s best, and surely a strong indication of better things to come from this ever-evolving guitarist.”
“...his guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. It’s a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun.”
“Did a guitar ever seem so effortlessly played?”
“Infinite Ego sure is a tasty, patient player! Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of rock guitar instrumentals that always manage to slyly de-emphasize the fact that they’re rock guitar instrumentals. My favorite thing about IE’s music is that it always manages to convey a very convincing and very memorable sort of universal cinematic sweep, but you never lose sight of [his] personality and sensibilities either. That’s a hard balance to achieve, but [the album] is an effortless blend of catchy tunes, quirky nuances, and mature rock guitar.”
“Better heard than described, the music of Savior Onasis will challenge the senses, while transporting the listener to provocative and beautiful places.”
“One of the better guitarists out there. This dude straight up shreds!!
“From the distorted alien FX and feedback that mark “The Omniarch” to the solo banjo piece, “The Gulf of Silence,” the first release by post-rock outfit Savior Onasis –– guitarist/leader Infinite Ego, is an almost uproariously diverse collection of instrumentals that run the gamut of rock and non-rock styles. “Where the North Atlantic and Kansas City Collide” is a split between a short volley of accordion, pizzicato violin and brass samples, and two minutes of ambient soundscaping. “Another Damn Blue Shirt” employes a ‘rock & roll’ chamber quartet motif and samples by turntablist Detmold. The album’s crowning achievement is the fourteen-minute-plus “No Other Sign [Shall Be Given]” which loses more bursts of Ozricoid loops at first, but gives way to a tougher power trio demeanor that sounds like Trey Gunn and Steve Hunter on a heavy fusion trip. Ego (playing a seven string) and drummer Kristian Ball rock out and space out in this turbulent journey that serves to proffer more tasty licks than a doe on a salt block. “Steam Engine” is the second cousin of “No Other Sign”, “Gulf” is not dissimilar to what one encounters on Kyle Dawkins’ Solponticello release Conasauga and “June Bug Jelly” also curbs its boisterous veneer to close the album on an acoustic note (two untitled hidden bonus tracks follow). It’s a shame a band of this calibre lingers (currently) in obscurity -- let’s help to change that.”
Sea of Tranquility
“Eschewing a ‘signature sound’ Ego continues to develop moment by moment. He plays conventional electric and acoustic guitars, a custom Chris Shaffer 7-string fretless, guitar synth, 19TET microtonal, prepared/microtonal, and dabbles with lap steel, banjo, oud, and sarod. IESO music ranges from straight ahead rock to absurd fusions of postmodernism, roots, ambient, noise, riff-and-shred, and just about anything else that can be tossed into the cultural blender; he’s especially fond of string music from Senegal and Mali and is currently working on capturing kora-like sounds on a microtonal 19TET + fretless hybrid nylon string utilizing a ‘third bridge’ [form of prepared guitar].”
Infinite Ego is actually one guy with some studio gadgets and a guitar who really likes to shred. Think Hendrix, Praxis, Vernon Reid, Satriani, all those technically impossible 90s albums by guys with really long hair and funny clothes playing impossibly fast runs and mutant scales on pointy guitars and all becomes clear. The main difference here between IE and the aforementioned shredmasters is a) he favors technoish background music over which to ply his atomic shred and b) his songs are relatively short, which is good -- blazing shred gets real tiresome after a while, and is best appreciated in short bursts. Some tracks, like "The Foolhardy Schemes of Vintage Meat, Inc.," are actually closer to ambient techno with tricky guitar. He gets a really swell guitar tone, and the songs are not totally overrun with shred fury to the exclusion of all else, so he at least has that much more sense than, say, the doofuses you always see pimping shred albums in the back of GUITAR WORLD.... Titles like "Lawn of Juice" and "Terrapin Trousers" lead me to believe he has a sense of humor, which is more than can be said for most of the shredmasters (can we say Yngwie the Eternally Uptight?). This is a demo, yes, but it's a really well-done demo, and if you favor the ubershred genre, you should definitely investigate this.
The Stun/Bofatron Sofasaurus project (a grad school social psychology experiment gone horribly awry) won numerous awards at Garageband (the now defunct music review site that appears to have been devoured by Apple)
* Best Guitars (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Most Rockin' Track (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Grooviest Rhythm (Instrumental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Best Keyboards (Alternative) March 2004
* Best Keyboards (again) March 2004
* Song of the Day April 2005, (Instrumental Rock)
* Track of the Day April 18 2005 in Instrumental Rock
* Most Original in Instrumental Rock, 11 April 2005
Stun/Bofatron has become a mythical entity by this point. Telling the story of his latest musical instrument acquisition, Jahloon (the UnFretted web master) says:
... One more thing I knew about the instrument, was the rumour that the shadowy musician Bofatron Sofasaurus had used it on some of his recordings. Bofa had appeared out of the Kronosonic artist's stable, playing well beyond anything deemed humanly possible. Guitar internet forums buzzed as to who he actually was. Some put forward the theory he was a top name, playing what his record company did not approve of. Others claimed the performance was electronically generated, again the degree of artistry deemed beyond human achievement. One thing I did know: Bofa had done some of his performances on the instrument. I did not know which, because many had been pulled from the Internet, but I did have his instruction book. Pretty much full of esoteric musings. We still don't know much about Bofa, he arrived and then he left, and while he was around he dropped some off the edge musical diversions, characteristics like "Transgressive Fluidity" and "Disturbing Shred" were names he gave his style. Then he would espouse scale fragmentation theory, harmolodics, and the tyranny of the Id. Couple that with killer tracks like Jupiter Proximity (death in orbit) and you can see the direction he was headed ...
Social Media and Email
I saved a few of the email messages I've received over the years. I've left out the truly weird ones (e.g., the who guy wanted to fly from Italy and live in my basement) as well as the death threats (I know it came from a place of love, Bros).
"Your music says so many things...It says the impossible is possible...Time and space can be manipulated.... It says "You think you have heard guitar, wait till you hear this".... Your music is like a thousand wars rolled into one... It is inspirational yet horrifying.... Pure pandemonium! "
"Cool stuff, such a unique sound! Very intense..."
"Heh killer. Thanks man. You have some crazy mechanics going on for sure. "
Regarding my technique book: "And a shout out to Ego for his downloadable book. Definitely get it - I'm just getting started with it and it's already given me some areas that have helped."
"Unique and fantastic player."
"Holy shit. That's all I can say. That was the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my life."
"OMG what did I just watch? That was intensane. Intense+insane. How?!"
“I found your stuff different and interesting. Maybe it's all been done before, but I haven't heard it. Can't exactly whistle it on your way home but demonstrates creativity. Cool!”
"Very creative! I know that's that a word that some people use as "Interesting but too weird for me." But, hey, I'm weird, too, I guess that's why I like it."
"This guy is completely insane. (just kidding) No really, he is so incredibly fast and accurate, it will blow your mind. I can't really compare him to anybody, but the guy is about the most original guitarist I have heard in a long time."
"this is the Holy Grail of shred"
"This is so killer"
"Great video demo!"
"[Y]ou're obviously some alien from outer space"
"I got a little dizzy just watching that! Great playing!"
"Welcome to the bizarre world of Bofatron, where the notes fly faster than humanly possible"
"a total assault!! My heart is pounding, my eyes are wide-open, sweat beads are on my brow and my fingers are infused with a life of their own - who could ask for more? Thanks again, keep up the wizardry"
"Wow! You are very cool. Funny, I listened to GPS2 and thought, wow, I want to hear it again. It freaked out my Music Match the second time and played it like 100Xs faster than normalvery strange. :o) Seems to me you could
find a pretty big audience of listeners for your music.
"Dude, is this for real?"
"Wow! That's insane!"
"Your technique is amazing."
"This hit me like a truck."
"let me tell you, you are amazingly talented! Good god man! You blow me out of the water. God, I want to get rid of my guitar all together. Well, I won't go that far but DAMN!"
"Full on hyper shred madness!"
"I'm listening to some of your stuff right now... it's amazing. Very bizarre. I can see the Buckethead influence. Do you play out much? I'd love to come to a show."
"Lastly, thanks for putting your book out into the world—I know that stuff is a lot of work, and distributing it for free is pretty amazing."
"Jeez, man. That hurt."
"listening to IE play has me totally in awe. I'd be ecstatic if I was half that good. Really shows me what is possible if you learn new things or new ways of doing things and experimenting instead of learning Metallica tabs note by note."
"Melee of Bucketheadian Guitaring"
"Oh good lord I must learn that technique"
"Wonderful tones. If you can find David Lee Roth (tell him you'll pay him to trim your hedges) You could have the next Van Halen. Fucking great. Eddie wishes he had tones that good."
"I want to thank all of you, especially IE, for posting your music clips. After listening to them in disbelief, I feel like sitting down and playing. I think I sat in disbelief and bewilderment after listening to Spectre for the first time. Still don't know just what's going on there, but it is unique. "
"I must say that I have been listening to music all afternoon and yours is some of the best I have heard in a while. Great modern sound. I like the themes of your music, as well."
"YOU'RE DEFINATELY ON THE RIGHT TRACK... GO WID' IT. GREAT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ps IHAVE THE HICCUPS THIS SUCKS I'M GOING TO HAVE TO HOLD MY BREATH FOR 180 SECONDS AT LEAST."
"Where others build edifices of sound, IE's guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. Where [other guitarists are] going for the throat of the guitar-hero marketplace, IE is kicking the marketplace in the groin and bitch-slapping the sucker out of his way. It's a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun"
[GPS is] "a good song! the guitar is pretty weird!"
"one of the most freaked out weird guitar styles...."
"can you say 'weird'?"
"Sweet...IS THIS INSTRUMENTAL?!!! add some words..."
“This guitarist [that's me ya know?!] claims Guitar Shred God Buckethead as his main influence. Just what this world needs...more dementia! Give his [music] a listen.”
"Whenever I finish downloading a song of yours and then click the ‘play’ button, I mentally brace myself for a trip without drugs. Sometimes it's overwhelming, and sometimes it's just what I need. That's a wonderful thing, and I thank you."
“Absolutely horrifying. This is the most impossible stuff in the world. Fucking science fiction abilities here man. You really are from another world.”
"That was a fun read and some SERIOUSLY fast picking!!! .... Much appreciated my brother!!! Thats some serious speed you have! Looks interesting! "
"Amazing picking ... No sh*t!"
"I'm very interested to see your approach to fast picking. Thanks in advance!"
"I've followed your work for years since I heard about Bofatron Sofasaurus ....This definitely seems right up my alley...I really enjoy your philosophy and your guitar playing/recordings....Thanks for the e-book and for providing me with inspiration. "
"Hey! This is some pretty cool stuff! Different for a change!"
"You''ll hit me by a three octave arpeggio before I could trigger a single note. OTOH, I don't wear leather pants and never slayed any dragon"
"Your playing is amazing, and it is extremely generous of you to share the book free of charge"
"Can I get a copy of your book? It sounds useful and your playing is amazing. Cheers!"
"This is really cool! Most books start with holding the pick before they get to all the semiotics and jouissance, but you jumped right in haha."
"Dear shredmaster :) I saw your speed picking blog and got very curious about your excellent playing and technique."
"Your chops are incredible! Could you hook me up with ... [a] lesson? Thanks for posting, truly inspirational."
"Incredible playing and picking!"
"You have a very unique and refreshing style. Definitely a breath of fresh air."
"Right on! for a real brain crunch simultaneously play three of your vids at once... ouch!
Seriously though, you got a cool thing goin there... hats off!"
"Vernon-style speed picking without enduring hair metal, I love it already. Btw your old 90s demo track could be an ancient lofi precursor to Animals As Leaders...Thank you"
"So fluid and precise..."
"The precision is amazing."
"Thank you again for the e-book. For some time now, I'd been individually developing the elements outlined in its first section on my own, but I didn't really know why and wasn't therefore able to see any use in them. That someone else has done so and provided a context for them, as well, has sort of given me permission to continue onward. Additionally, I'm now really looking forward to going through the rest of the exercises."
"Chops for days."
"... you're extremely skilled on this beauty ..."
"That speed picking thing you do is something else. Damn."
"It's not so much the playing but the ideas. Many ideas you had/have, which is totally great ..."
"Your playing really caught my ear. Some really unique stuff you posted."
I received this email from the great slide guitarist, Scott Colby:
"I don't think I ever mentioned this before, but my iPod's huge playlist of tracks on perpetual shuffle includes four mp3 tracks that you sent me back in 2005:
- Fold Kitty Into Nap Shapes
- The Fish We Eat Are Sugar Free
- Does This Mohawk Make Me Look Fat?
- Sharpie Improv
I like 'em! The playlist in question contains enough music to play for more than 4 days straight, and includes stuff from widely different genres (progressive rock, Steely Dan, Canterbury rock, bluegrass, jazz, Sondheim musicals, classic New Orleans R&B, Beefheart, Zappa, Fats Waller, Raymond Scott, NRBQ, Cab Calloway, Marshall Crenwhaw, Django, and on & on.... Your tracks fit in nicely."
Praise for PP Control! Certainly, there are many books on guitar technique but I know of no other resource or instructional medium that takes a look at the true extremes of guitar playing that Speed-Picking for the 21st Century Rock Guitarist explores. Guitar pedagogy, particularly electric guitar, is extremely limited, and in a lot of ways room for exploration is still available. In this book Infinite Ego exposes the reader to calculated methods and thoughts that help tear down the boundaries limiting free expression on the guitar. Tim Mirth
The kids love PP Control! ;-) More than just technique (though there is plenty of that), this book expounds upon often under-elucidated areas of guitar music, venturing deeply into the philosophy of the instrument and its praxis. Take heed, this isn't your grandpa's technique book. Aaron Ford