'Celestial supersonic textures': Carlos Santana says there are things he still hasn't done on guitar

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An upcoming instrumental album from Carlos Santana certainly begs the question: Is there anything he can’t do on guitar?

After all, Santana built his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame resume on sizzling solos, selling 90 million records and earning 10 Grammys along the way — nine of them for 1999’s Supernatural, a record-tying mark for a single album. He is, along with the Rolling Stones, one of just two acts to have scored at least one Billboard Top 10 album in each decade since the 1960s. His latest project, Shapeshifter, is due May 15, 2012, on Santana’s new Starfaith Records label.

Highlights on the new album include “Angelica Faith,” co-written with keyboardist Chester Thompson, and “Mr. Szabo,” which finds Santana again paying tribute to Gabor Szabo. (Fans will remember the Santana band’s thrilling melding of Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen” with “Black Magic Woman” on Abraxas.) Shape Shifter closes with two collaborations with Santana’s son, Salvador.

For all of that history, though, there are sounds still unheard for the great guitarist.

“You know, at this point, the only thing I’d like to do is experiment with supersonic sounds – like Jimi Hendrix before he went to the National Anthem or before he played ‘Wild Thing,'” Santana tells MusicRadar. “There was a celestial texture that he achieved, and the only other person who got to that same place was Stevie Ray Vaughan. Here it comes: celestial supersonic textures.”

Going deeper in describing those textures, Santana takes us on a journey through the stars — though he’s quick to add that, if attempted by someone less skilled than the Hendrixes and Vaughans of the world, that flight can come quickly crashing back to earth.

“You open up the guitar and the amplifiers, and all of a sudden it’s like an Aurora Borealis of sound,” Santana says. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can sound really corny and awful. But if you know what you’re doing, it’s like all of the dinosaurs in the world are screaming, with motorcycles from the Hell’s Angels. Jimi Hendrix knew how to create a texture on a big canvas, but it wasn’t noise – it was art.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Santana. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

ONE TRACK MIND: SANTANA, “ANGELICA FAITH” (2012): Carlos’ guitar out in front again is in itself is refreshing, as he’s lost none of his golden chops, and the owner of one of the most distinct, sweetly tube-heavy tones in all of rock guitar history serves up more of what attracted us to Santana in the first place. One of choice cuts on the new album is the smooth (but not “Smooth”) groover “Angelica Faith.” Santana reconnects with his underappreciated ability to craft soul-drenched jazz fusion ballads, represented by such memorable tunes as “Europa,” “Aquamarine” and “Blues For Salvador” — the latter of which, like this one, was co-written with Santana’s keybaord player since the mid-80s, Chester Thompson.

SANTANA – GREATEST HITS: LIVE AT MONTREUX (2012): His sound is so crystalline, so special, that Carlos Santana remains recognizable with or without pictures. Yet for all of the accolades showered on this Mexican-born American guitar hero, not least of which is his inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santana has always been as bold and colorful as he is collaboratively brilliant. Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux, filmed last summer, tends to underscore how these intersections have come to define his band — and, in some cases, how dearly collaborative voices like Gregg Rolie’s are missed.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GREGG ROLIE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SANTANA AND JOURNEY: Gregg Rolie, a 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has learned a lot about himself since taking fame’s exit ramp to start a family almost 30 years ago. He’s put into perspective the work done as a founding member of Santana, a stint that saw Rolie co-produce the group’s first four albums beginning in 1969. The bluesy B-3 stylist then added to an overstuffed resume that already included an appearance at Woodstock, leaving with Neal Schon to launch Journey. There, he helped craft a series of 1970s recordings that set the stage for that band’s arena-rock supernova moment in the 1980s.

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Here’s the tracklisting for Carlos Santana’s forthcoming album ‘Shape Shifter’:
1. Shape Shifter
2. Dom
3. Nomad
4. Metatron
5. Angelica Faith
6. Never The Same Again
7. In The Light of a New Day
8. Spark of the Divine
9. Macumba In Budapest
10. Mr. Szabo
11. Erez La Luz
12. Canula
13. Ah, Sweet Dancer

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