Review | Theo Van Niel JR – Self-Eduction

Independent /

Some seven years ago Dutch guitarist Theo van Niel Jr presented his first instrumental six-track album ‘Practised Bravado’. In the meantime he has been active in several groups but in the back ground he kept working on his own material which has resulted in a second six-track album entitled ‘Self-Education’ (again all instrumental).


As guitarist, composer and producer Theo has certainly made some steps forward. The album title says it all. Self-education or in other words he has taught himself to develop his skills, taking care of all instruments on this album, with the exception of the drums for which he hired Shane Gaalaas, a veteran who has worked with people like Malmsteen, Slash and Michael Schenker, just to mention a few. He also used Jørgen Monkeby to add some saxophone towards the song ,,Anxiety Express’’, which has turned out to be a fine ‘duel’ between Theo and Jorgen.


Just as was the case on ‘Practised Bravado’ Theo does not concentrate on a certain style. His music is a mixed bag of styles where influences from rock, country, jazz, folk and heavy rock are professionally brought together. All songs have a certain theme as well. It is safe to say that Theo has thought carefully about his musical journey. His guitar playing is out of this world. He can match himself with people like Vinnie Moore. Joe Satriani and (maybe) even a genius like Steve Vai.


Delivering an instrumental album that has so much variety could hide a potential danger as well. What kind of an audience is Theo aiming for? I would say he aims towards people that do not mind a musical experiment (or two) on a record. It is his aim to keep it as widely varied as possible but the risk that you take is that musically you might find yourself standing on a musical island. But somehow, I believe that Theo realises this and that maybe he even does not want to focus or prefer a certain style or genre. Anything is possible and open to interpretation as far as this man is concerned.

For fans of guitar-orientated stuff ‘Self-Education’ will be a very interesting album as the musicianship is very high. You will not find this record in the regular shops. The best advice is to visit the website for more information on purchasing this record that is also available as stream.

Release date: 17 May 2024



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