A Whisper in the Thunder is
the first release on Spotted Peccaryís new subdivision label called O3e Music
and from the sounds of this one Iím 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 Tomís
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 McLaughlinís 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 Tomís CD are 77 Times which offers us a light an airy
piece that has a laid back groove feel to the music while Tomís 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 Padillaís work Vostok.
Near the end of the piece we get Tomís instrument wailing out of the cold and
the wind and then it slides right into the next song Victorís 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 Tomís 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 Tomís 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.
by Michael Foster