Instrumental rock has come in many different forms over the years, and they range from surf rock to the folk-rock fingerpickers (Leo Kottke, John Fahey and Peter Lang, for example) to metallic hard rock shredders like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani (the virtuosos who offer some idea of what Eddie Van Halen might have sounded like as a full-time instrumentalist). But Tom Griesgraber is a rock instrumentalist who doesn't fit into any of those categories. A Whisper in the Thunder is probably best described as instrumental progressive rock; there are parallels between Griesgraber's evocative, atmospheric, reflective material and artists like Pink Floyd and Genesis, although the latter two are known for being vocal-oriented. Griesgraber, however, is far from a clone of Pink Floyd, Genesis or anyone else in prog rock. He has an appealing vision of his own, and this thoughtful effort finds the guitarist/bassist bringing elements of jazz, ambient electronica, new age (the meatier, more substantial new age) and world music to his rock foundation. One sometimes hears traces of guitarist Pat Metheny in Griesgraber's playing, but while Metheny is essentially a jazz musician with rock influences, Griesgraber is more rock than anything. And it should be noted that Griesgraber's main instrument on A Whisper in the Thunder isn't a conventional guitar or bass but rather, the Chapman Stick -- a 12-string instrument that could be considered a combination of an electric guitar and an electric bass. This 2004 release is slightly uneven -- some of the tracks are stronger than others -- but overall, A Whisper in the Thunder is an enjoyable, well-crafted demonstration of Griesgraber's talents as a composer, producer and soloist.
A Whisper in the Thunder Review
by Alex Henderson