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Tom Griesgraber

Whisper in the Thunder

Review by Gary Hill

Featuring guest appearances by Jerry Marotta, Pat Mastelotto and the California Guitar Trio, and with the fact that Griesgraber's instrument is the Chapman Stick, one might expect this disc to sound like Tony Levin's solo material. Perhaps there are some commonalties, but in many ways this music is more gentle and less adventurous than Levin's. While there are a lot of things to like about the disc, there is a definite sense of sameness to a lot of the material. I personally would have trouble sitting through the entire album too many times, but I do find myself listening to various tracks by themselves. If you are a fan of mellow instrumental prog, this disc will certainly be a treat for you, though. For the rest of us, it is a nice change of pace listening experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ahab
A short ambient section gives way to an acoustic based section that builds up to a melodic, but fast paced jam. As the bass joins in this ramps up to a more high energy number. Keyboards put down layers of sound over top and the cut moves forward as a very potent prog rock piece. This one has quite a few expressive musical passages and makes for an awesome opening tune. It does include vocals, but they're very understated and, in fact, one might miss them if not paying attention. It drops to atmospheric tones later.
Prado
This acoustic guitar solo is very dynamic and entertaining. It moves through a whole variety of segments and moods. It is an extended cut, but doesn't get overly repetitive.
77 Times
This one starts on the acoustic guitar and moves and progresses slowly into a bouncy rather jazzy jam. This is a mellow and satisfying instrumental that gets more lush as it carries on.
Jungle, Pt. 1
With an intro that really isn't all that different from much of the material here, this in fact is another progish acoustic based ballad. It is quite effective.
Jungle, Pt. 2
This one is based on a droning bass sound and includes waves of cloud like guitar sound woven over top of this back drop. A rhythm section later brings in an increased intensity and power. It drops to atmosphere to end.
Frozen Ocean
Gentle sounds begin this and hints of something more powerful and dramatic enters slowly. This feels a bit like some of the more atmospheric of Djam Karet's work as it very slowly builds in a dark but pretty fashion. This never really goes far, but instead segues directly into the next cut.
Victor's Chase
Building on the themes of the previous track, this one adds energy and emotion to those sounds at first, until a new mellow, intricate and beautiful melody takes the track. This then begins a gradual building process again feeling a bit like Djam Karet. This jam is another wandering one, but quite cohesive. It jumps later to an almost funky groove. The group take this one on a new adventure, reworking the themes for a time before dropping it back to an accompanied acoustic guitar solo segment. Then weave processed guitar moves over top of this backdrop. They jump back to the earlier segment after this interlude, then drop it back down to the most dramatic part of the track. This doesn't last long, though, instead morphing back to the earlier mellower stylings before going back to guitar dominated beauty. Once again they build on this structure to carry forward. A drop to percussion only serves as the outro.
Tiny Whispering Sound
Atmosphere begins this and acoustic guitar joins in a very slowly building fashion. This is a very slowly moving and brief piece.
Waking the Day
World sounds start this, first with flute sounds, then tribal percussion. Eventually acoustic guitar begins a bouncy melody over top. This is a pretty and gentle composition that builds very slowly.
 
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