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The Gabriel Construct - Interior City Album Cover

The Gabriel Construct - Interior City

Reviewed by
7.5
The Gabriel Construct - Interior City
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Record Label: Unsigned
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Throughout my college career, I spent a lot of time in the music building. I was initially a vocal performance major, spending the majority of my semester credit hours throughout the first two and a half years of school on courses that stressed the importance of music theory and classical music history. But while my music history classes certainly paid a certain amount of homage to the iconic pillars of the form—Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Mahler, etc., etc.—they also lent my ears their first experiences with the bizarre world of 20th century experimental and avant-garde music. And while I was certainly never the biggest fan of meandering atonal compositions or of the bizarre formulations of “chance music,” I could appreciate the self-described “modern” compositions that many of my professors and classmates were writing in their spare time. After all, making a song work with a chorus and a hook and a clear melody is hard enough; making a composition work with none of the above is downright impossible.

I write all of this here because Gabriel Lucas Riccio, the mastermind behind the solo rock/metal/prog/jazz/atonal/classical project that is the Gabriel Construct, comes from a music school background. Riccio’s training, as well as the musical experiences of the sidemen that he brings in to help flesh out his sound, is written clearly on the canvas of InteriorCity, his first record under the Gabriel Construct moniker. Admittedly, listening to Interior City for the first time is both a “WTF” double-take and a shock to the senses. On the gorgeously haunting opening track, “Arrival in a Distant Land,” the audience is washed by the waves of an expansive 12-tone piano opening. With elements of both avant-garde and jazz piano works—for me, the baroque-meets-jazz opening of Springsteen’s “New York City Serenade” came to mind—the piano suite swept me away. For a moment, I wished that the entire record could be like this: serene but with shades of unease; fully instrumental, but with Riccio’s breaths lurking in the background, like some not-so-stealthy menace poised to pounce. When Riccio’s voice does break the silence, he almost sounds like Ben Folds, his haunting tenor building to repeated cries of “and I can’t get out.” The delivery—and the song as a whole—provide a stunning introduction to this new musical world. With just piano and vocals, apparently unaided by any studio assistance, Riccio creates a crushing atmosphere of claustrophobia. It feels like there is no space between the listener and Riccio’s anguished wails, and by the time “Arrival in a Distant Land” collapses into the next track, the tension has been raised to a breaking point.

The sonic shock of the next track, “Ranting Prophet,” brings the metal influence into the equation. Though he touts Interior City as a solo project, Riccio employ a number of sessions musicians and metal veterans for almost every other track on the album. We get layers of multi-tracked vocals, acrobatic guitar parts, even smatterings of violin and saxophone—if they first track hinted that this record was going to be a Jeff Buckley-ish singer/songwriter record, the rest of the tunes shut down that misconception immediately. This is a prog-metal album, and Riccio wants us to know it.

As is the case with many prog-metal albums, the arrangements on InteriorCityare Herculean in scope and impressive in execution. From a musical theory standpoint, these songs are stunning, from the rapid-fire drums and flickering vocal lines of “Retreat Underground,” to the spider-web piano parts and buzzing ambience of late-album triumph, “Languishing in Lower Chakras,” all the way to the pyrotechnic guitar cacophony that opens the album’s closer, “Curing Somatization.” But as a listener who can really only take the avant-garde thing in small doses (and who really can’t take the metal thing at all, for all the instrumental talent that the genre holds), this album’s lengthy and noisy runtime becomes exhausting. It could be that solo piano songs are just too conventional for Riccio’s tastes, but InteriorCityis never better than when it leaves a lone spotlight shining on just voice and keys during the opener. After that, it’s all clenched emotion intensity, unorthodox and robotic vocal delivery, and songs that tell a conceptual tale about lost and found self-respect in a world that’s lost its connection and engagement. It’s heavy stuff, both sonically and thematically, but since Interior City stretches on for over 72 minutes, I can’t help but wish there was a little more ebb and flow.

7.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 5 of 5
08:42 AM on 07/11/13
#2
Archael
listens to good music
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surprised this got covered here. it's pretty darn awesome actually, I'd rate it higher if I was bothered to listen to this more often.
09:43 AM on 07/11/13
#3
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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surprised this got covered here. it's pretty darn awesome actually, I'd rate it higher if I was bothered to listen to this more often.
I've been getting sent some pretty interesting promos lately. This was one of them. Not really my thing--I'm not a metal guy at all--but the classical music angle caught my eye and my ear. Not going to be one I listen to a lot, just because of how relentless it is, but definitely an interesting record.
10:25 AM on 07/11/13
#4
Archael
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I've been getting sent some pretty interesting promos lately. This was one of them. Not really my thing--I'm not a metal guy at all--but the classical music angle caught my eye and my ear. Not going to be one I listen to a lot, just because of how relentless it is, but definitely an interesting record.
yeah, neither am I. probably why I don't listen to it as much as I should. but it's still a great album with a definitely unique sound, just a bit tedious. I think it'll interest some users here, hopefully they'll bother to check it out.
10:37 AM on 07/11/13
#5
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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yeah, neither am I. probably why I don't listen to it as much as I should. but it's still a great album with a definitely unique sound, just a bit tedious. I think it'll interest some users here, hopefully they'll bother to check it out.
Yeah, it could do with some trimming, haha. But there's a lot of really cool stuff going on here, and I agree: it could appeal to a lot of people around these parts.

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