A Whisper In The Thunder

A Whisper In The Thunder

Tom Griesgraber

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Listen 1. Ahab
Listen 2. El Prado
Listen 3. 77 Times
Listen 4. Jungle (pt.1)
Listen 5. Jungle (pt.2)
Listen 6. The Frozen Ocean
Listen 7. Victor's Chase
Listen 8. A Tiny Whispering Sound
Listen 9. Waking The Day

The debut release on the O3E label is also the long awaited solo debut from Chapman Stick player Tom Griesgraber (pronounced ‘GRICE-gray-burr ‘) featuring many of his live shows’ best known compositions. Seamless from dark to light, dense to sparse, ‘A Whisper In The Thunder ‘ is textural and rhythmic masterpiece that finds sanctuary with the Instrumental Rock and Eclectic Fusion listener. A Chapman Stick specialist, Griesgraber – supported by legendary drummers Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls) and Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mr Mister), as well as The California Guitar Trio – wields his 12-string guitar/bass/synth hybrid with poetic mastery, producing outstanding performances of inspired compositions. A Whisper in the Thunder is a search for the simple and meaningful amid the pressures and distractions of modern life.

“Tom is a master Stick player. His technique and musicality stand as an inspiration to the rest of us who play the instrument, and we’re always eager to see what he’ll do next.”
– Tony Levin, (bass/stick player for Peter Gabriel, King Crimson)

Reviews

A review from Wind and Wire | Read Full Review
Tom Griesgraber is a real wizard on this instrument and he dazzles everywhere on A Whisper In The Thunder . . . Highly recommended!

A rev' em up progressive fusion CD from Spotted Peccary? What is the world coming to? Something highly enjoyable if Chapman stick player Tom Griesgraber has anything to say about it! a whisper in the thunder is more thunder than whisper, so ambient and soundscape fans may be sent running for cover when ‘Ahab,’ the first track, erupts in a blaze of ethnic percussion, drum loops, thumping bass, soaring synth and the unusual melodic strains of ‘the Stick’ (one of the more unique instruments around). Joined by a host of guest artists on all manner of percussion, acoustic guitars, bansuri flute and more, Griesgraber lights up the sky (on Stick, stick-synth, bass, acoustic guitars, and loops) throughout this energizing album, putting enough of an edge on the music that it never becomes mundane ‘pop’ in nature, while also pushing the progressive envelope just enough to pique interest without alienating the neophyte. Moods vary considerably, from the pleasantly jaunty ‘El Prado’ which starts slow but becomes a showcase for the artist's unbelievably adroit work on the Chapman stick, to the lively ECM jazz-flavored ‘77 Times’ (one of my faves on this outstanding work, featuring solid drum kit work by Darren DeBree), to ‘Victor's Chase’ which constantly evolves over its nine minutes from moody and quiet to propulsive and primal and back again, exemplifying the appeal of progressive fusion music to blend improvisation with structure and create compositions that demand close attention to reap all they have to offer.

While the majority of the album is rhythmic and dynamic, ‘The Frozen Ocean’ displays that Griesgraber's talents extend into the ambient realm as well; the piece consists mainly of the sound of wind, sparse sonic textures, and traces of melodic elements that are forlorn and haunting. Likewise, ‘A Tiny Whispering Sound’ which is centered around minimal notes played on the Stick, hews closer to either minimal jazz or a melancholic type of new age music. Have no fear, though, as Griesgraber goes out on a joyful and celebratory globally-infused fusion note with ‘Waking the Day.’ Anchored by superb percussion from Jerry Marotto and Emily Weber's fine bansuri flute work, the piece is likely to make some listeners start dancing in cheerful exuberance with its infectious and flat out happy beat, carrying hints of Africa within its rhythms.

Admittedly, I was not prepared for this kind of recording to come from our friends at Spotted Peccary (especially with the more or less ‘typical’ artwork from the label adorning the CD cover). However, once I escaped the prison of my preconceptions, I found myself absorbed (to say the least) in the kinetic rhythms, the catchy melodic refrains, and (of course) the special magic that can only be heard emanating from the Chapman Stick. Tom Griesgraber is a real wizard on this instrument and he dazzles everywhere on a whisper in the thunder. For those who like powerful progressive fusion music, but yearn for something off the beaten track without desiring the bizarre or strange, this CD will likely do nicely - very nicely, in fact. Highly recommended!

- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire

A review from Ambient Visions | Read Full Review
there is not a weak track in the set

A Whisper in the Thunder is the first release on Spotted Peccary’s new subdivision label called O3e Music and from the sounds of this one I’m sure it will not be the last. Tom is joined on this release by Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and the California Guitar Trio (Bert Lams, Paul Richards, Hideyo Moriya) who help Tom shine all the more in this stunning debut. Tom composed and produced all the material you hear on this CD and you might be surprised to learn that Tom does not play as much guitar on this CD as you might think from first listen but rather an instrument called the Chapman Stick which he discovered after watching a performance by Tony Levin. Tom decided after seeing Tony Levin play the Chapman Stick that he was going to switch from the guitar and master this new instrument. Judging from what he shows us on this CD he is well on his way to being a master of the Chapman Stick.

The Chapman Stick is better defined by those who know it better but suffice it to say that the appearance is similar to a long stick with strings that you play with both hands sort of like a piano instead of the traditional guitar where one hand plucks the strings while the other fingers the frets. For an interesting little Quicktime video that will explain it visit this page and then explore the site if you desire to know more. http://www.stick.com/method/

Tom takes us through 9 tracks on this CD with each one showing that he is more than capable as a musician and a composer to bring his music to life using this new found instrument. The longest track on this collection of music is 9:14 but that is not typical of the rest of the songs on this CD. Most of the songs are right around 4-5 minutes in length. I would not consider this a bad thing as you get a chance to hear more of what Tom does best which is make the Chapman Stick speak his musical language. After listening to this CD completely through a few times now I would venture to say that there is not a weak track in the set.

The more I listened to Tom’s playing the more it reminded me of another artist on Narada that I have listened to in the past when I wanted to hear some great guitar playing. Billy McLaughlin’s CD Out of Hand is an echo of the style of music that Tom Griesgraber has created on A Whisper in the Thunder. Some of the standout tracks from Tom’s CD are 77 Times which offers us a light an airy piece that has a laid back groove feel to the music while Tom’s playing is precise and evokes a joyful response from the listener. Another fantastic piece is the track called El Prado which shows you exactly how precise the Chapman stick can be in the hands of a master player. Each and every string resonates with a clear and distinct tone that reminds one of the precision of a classical guitarist and yet the melodies and the rhythms explore those areas between jazz, new age and ambient. The most atmospheric track on the CD would probably be The Frozen Ocean which opens with what sounds like the wind blowing across a barren expanse that in my mind creates visuals of an arctic climate. The music builds with waves of sound breaking upon the frozen shore that in some respects reminded me of Craig Padilla’s work Vostok. Near the end of the piece we get Tom’s instrument wailing out of the cold and the wind and then it slides right into the next song Victor’s Chase. Very nice.

All in all this CD offers the listener a wide range of listening experiences from light and airy to expansive, dark and cold. All of the music is a tribute to the compositional skills of Tom Griesgraber and his abilities to bring it all together using the Chapman stick as his main tool. This may have been Tom’s first effort on this new label from Spotted Peccary and the first for the label as well but it has made an impression on my mind that the label stands for quality music which is evident in Tom’s playing. If you are looking for great guitar CD that moves easily between a variety of styles then A Whisper in the Thunder is the CD for you. Recommended.

- Michael Foster, Ambient Visions

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