Buckethead: Giant Robot

Some things just, you know, well, go together. Psycho-shred guitarist Buckethead’s latest, Giant Robot, originally released in Japan in 1994, is the perfect companion to, say, a weekend of watching nothing but Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing. And just as manga raids the shred rock and electronica universes for the soundtracks to their animated flights of fancy, Buckethead plunders the Japanese fantasy universe for themes for his heavy metal excursions (check the Randy Rhoads reference on the opening track). And as anyone who has followed his eccentric career since the early ’90s knows, his material not only features all star collaborators-Bootsy Collins, Jerome Brailey, Sly Dunbar, Bill Laswell-it can leave you wondering if his tongue is in his cheek or in his frontal lobes. On “Welcome to Bucketheadland,” a 50-foot Buckethead invades Tokyo and liberates chickens, for example, while the spoken interludes are pure psychotic rants. The music, though, has an oddly disjointed grace: Bootsy’s space bass adds some flubbery bottom to “Buckethead’s Toy Store”; Bucket’s rhythm playing on “Aquabot” sounds more like a video game in meltdown mode (not surprising, since he’s provided guitar riffs for video games). Just as interesting is his take on “Pure Imagination,” which turns the Willy Wonka theme into a piece of cybertronic pathos.