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With the first shimmering notes, Johnson carries us off into an ameliorating ride into the subconscious. Bound to join the ranks of his other instrumental masterpieces, Gem is built around a simple but striking melody. Several solo sections allow the guitarist to perform passages that are lyrical and concise. Each note has a rubber band-like quality - one can actually feel the tension in Johnson’s vibrato. If that’s what he means by getting ’Up Close,’ he’s succeeded.
“I wrote Gem as a gift for a friend of mine. I’ve been playing it live for a few years, and it was feeling good, like it could work for the album. When we cut it in the studio, I got a little carried away adding some different textures to it. But nothing extreme, nothing that would take away from the basic structure.
“The intro came out real nice. I plugged straight into the console, although I did use a bunch of effects. Actually, there’s about 10 different guitars on there, all doing counterpoints to the melody. That’s why it sounds so otherworldly.”