||The beauty and scope of textural music are vividly realized in Chicago bassist/composer Brian Gingrich's The White Rim of Heaven. These seven instrumentals recall the light-and-shadows painting of the Hudson River school, with deft turns of melody and tone illuminating the details of their flow.
This is music with spirit, hypnotic and transcendent, born of Gingrich's fusion of improvisation and canny arrangement. It's a close relative to Brian Eno's ambient works, Steve Reich's minimalism, the slowly uncoiling art rock of David Sylvian, and the sorcery of guitarists Robert Fripp and David Torn.
Torn is among the seven musicians who define this CD's terrain. Playing over a tremoring bed of synth pads and rich-toned bass, they conjure rhythmic monoliths of steel and raise tinkling percussive question marks as guitars caper by like gazelles or sing whalesongs. This parade of ideas and sounds bypasses the two-lane blacktop of boredom.
Gingrich's vision is so fully achieved that it seems the product of players with an intimate bond. Not so. "It was a virtual band," explains Gingrich. "None of the musicians played together. It's a matter of improvising with the studio, not within the studio. I explore signal processing and try to come up with interesting synth pads and tones. I spend incredible amounts of time twiddling knobs and with the computer. I take parts from the players, set them up just so, and hit Play on the sequencer, and it all spills out like I want it."
Gingrich made the album over two years, spending $4,500. Many tracks began as samples. For example, he taped Eric Batterman and Leo Murphy playing percussion instruments into his only microphone, a Radio Shack PZM, plugged into a consumer-grade Sony DAT recorder. Later, while composing "Batterie of Last Resort" in the MIDI studio he's based around an Akai DR-4 hard disk recorder, Gingrich transformed Murphy's drumkit into "humongous sounds of beaten junk." He colored Murphy's free improv with prepared piano, kettle drums, and other voices from his Casio SZ-1 sampler and synthesizer modules, creating an air of queasy malevolence.
For the opening cut, "The Knotted Cord," Gingrich sent Torn ten minutes of click track and asked him to improvise. What came back was a virtuoso solo performance, packed with loops, backwards runs, pitch-shifting timbres, and notes that dance with the frantic commitment of a Jules Feiffer cartoon. Gingrich inked in the open spaces with melodies and throbs from his DI'ed fretless Carvin bass, which has a Zeta piezo pickup. Then he added synth pads and percussion samples that edge the listener up to Torn's mid-song flip from gamboling monolog to restless scream.
This is Gingrich's fourth album, and his first on a label. A former rock and GB (general business) player, he's now employed in the computer industry and restricting his art to the studio. "Trying to take this amount of gear out into a club in Chicago would be a logistical nightmare, to say nothing of finding musicians to play it for virtually no money," he says. "But this music is something I've become obsessed with." Good thing for us.
-Ted Drozdowski, Musician Magazine
Textural electric music that revolves around the big sound of Gingrich's fretless basses, with loads of layered guitars (some by David Torn), processed drums, loops running forwards and backwards, and things that go bump in the night. As is often the case with this type fo music, some things wrok better than others--but it's a rewarding (and often very highly entertaining) journey of discovery.
-Jim Roberts, Bass Player Magazine
Bassist Gingrich and guitarists David Torn and Dean Jensen highlight this set of mesmerizing sci-fi soundscapes. Weird guitar loops, drones, and tasty fretless bass lines flourish amid the stark beauty of this music. Picture Isaac Asimov playing rock 'n' roll and you'll be on the right asteroid.
-Pete Prown, Guitar Shop Magazine
From the aural flux of David Torn's guitar in the opening moments of this CD, listeners will quickly realize that Gingrich's bent has taken a few detours since his last release _Anxious Days_. Torn, as well as three other guitarists combine forces with this multi-instrumentalist on _White Rim_ to create more jagged, and frenetic soundscapes than we've previously heard from Gingrich. This album explores the extremes of darkness and sonic anarchy. It's very much a soulmate to David Torn's last album, _What Means Solid, Traveller?_ --another tour de force that stretches contemporary instrumental borders. _White Rim_ is an essential purchase for fans of music on the edge." Five Stars.
-Anil Prasad, Innerviews.
Guitarist Brian Gingrich has been around for some time now and on The White Rim of Heaven (58:34, ALCD 1008), he is signed to a label rather than releasing music on his own. Joined by David Torn, among others, Gingrich's music is a little more hard-edged than the above, though every bit as evocative and moody. He seems to like a bit of a weirdness factor, not unlike the angular and curious lines, and dissonant, though never atonal harmonies that characterize the more bizarre, but wonderful numbers by Larks' Tongues... and subsequent versions of King Crimson. At the same time, Gingrich goes for those opulent, sumptuous textures and sonorities that owe more to Jon Hassell and David Sylvian than to Yes or Genesis.
-Dean Suzuki, Progression Magazine
Anxious Days and Forty Nights (1992)
"There is a definite, though often, loose direction. Some of the music is dark and foreboding. Much of it stimulated my imagination...Anxious Days and Forty Nights is like the abstract painting I still can't explain, but have found that, I like this texture here and what about that shade of blue-gray on yellow there..." Music Uncovered Summer 93.
"A curious talent is Brian Gingrich, a creator of synth-based music that kind of either sits between styles or rides across them, and thus this CD is not easy to define...Despite this schizophrenic diversity, Brian does have a style that is present throughout, a style which isn't easy to pinpoint-which I suppose is apt in such a conflux of musics." Alan Freeman, Audion, 2/93
"Gingrich is a very accomplished composer of modern music who leans towards a fusion of electronic and world influences. His music is expertly arranged, dynamic and very inventive. His balance of acoustics and electronics, his synth programming and arranging are all world class." Dreams World XIV.
"Gingrich is without a doubt one of the more original and innovative US artists on the EM scene today. Easily one of my top ten records of 1992." Darren Bergstein i/e Magazine, winter 1992.
"This impressive synth-based release explores ground today's new age cheeseballs fear to tread. By using the building blocks of rock, worldbeat and ambient sounds, Gingrich has presented listeners with an aural theatre of mass-construction. Shifting between the spirited and the sombre, _Anxious Days_ twists and bends listeners like musical twigs -- and always lets go in time for them to enjoy its next sonic journey. Gingrich has created an ideal soundtrack for today's global-tribal culture. " Anil Prasad, Freelance Journalist