The Gabriel Construct is the rock solo project of Gabriel Lucas Riccio, a
vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Salisbury, MD. His debut
album, Interior City, is a dark and atmospheric concept album featuring
Travis Orbin (Darkest Hour, ex-Periphery, Of Legends) on drums, Thomas
Murphy (ex-Periphery) on bass, David Stivelman (ex-Debbie Does Dallas) on
guitar, Soren Larson on saxophone and frequent collaborator Sophia Uddin
The album unites players from rock, metal, classical, and jazz
backgrounds to create a sound which incorporates influences from a wide
variety of genres, including progressive rock, 20th century classical
music, extreme metal, drum-n-bass, jazz, ’90s grunge and space rock, ’80s
pop and more. The album’s densely layered vocal harmonies, distorted
pianos, dissonant chords and complex rhythms envelop the listener in a
hallucinatory wall of sound.
Gabriel graduated from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music
in 2011 where he won the Melvin B. Troy Prize in composition after
studying under Gerald Levinson. Levinson was a student of George Crumb and
Olivier Messiaen, both of whom became large influences on Interior City.
Gabriel’s rock background combined with classical training provide him with
a unique perspective which allows him to create a sound entirely his own.
Just as the music of Interior City attempts to overcome the limitations
of genre boundaries, the album’s concept is concerned with overcoming the
mental programming which holds each of us back. It is a story about
paranoia and escapism, based on a simple idea: in a society which respects
nothing, every individual learns that they are not worthy of respect. The
album follows one person’s tumultuous journey to regain their self respect
and their ability to fully engage with the world around them, in the
process revealing the darkest thoughts that drive society as a whole.
Gabriel wanted “to create a work which encourages people to live with
respect and compassion, both for the world around them and for themselves.
In an increasingly globalised world, it is more important than ever to
recognise how our actions and lifestyles affect others.” With Interior
City, he has musically documented his personal journey towards manifesting
Interior City on first listen is odd, it’s definitely not an album that everyone will enjoy. The first track Arrival In A Distant Land is a beautifully composed classical piece which blends subtly with the next track Ranting Prophet. By track three, Fear of Humanity, the album starts to sound like a musical soundtrack but of course, it would be the darkest and most surreal musical around.
Interior City is not easily accessible as a record. It takes more than a few listens to appreciate it. It’s not something that can slip cosily into a genre which is fantastic but it also means that it will fall outside of gaining a wide audience. Most people like comfort zones when it comes to their music so unfortunately Interior City won’t be heard or fully appreciated by many people. The compositions are breath-taking, Gabriel really does have a unique talent. The blending of genres ranging from metal to jazz is outstanding – you would not think having influences from all genres would work but it does. It’s hard to believe that one guy can compose music using influences from metal, rock, pop, jazz and classical in the way that Gabriel has on Interior City.
The piano pieces which can be heard played alone are strictly influenced by classical music and are some of the most relaxing and beautiful despite the melancholy tone and subjects of the record.
Gabriel has a wonderful ability to create atmospheric, stage-like music which, when given the time, can really tap into human emotions. My Alien Father is a brilliant example of this. With the lyrics “They’re out there/They watch us/Where are you?/I’ve been waiting and waiting/Please greet me…”, Gabriel manages to create a dark, almost other worldly feel to this song where you can instantly relate to this feeling of paranoia and not belonging in a strange place.
Interior City is an album that should be listened to and should be appreciated for what it is – it’s not popular culture but an expression of art. It’s not for everyone, that much is clear, but it’s an album that defies genres and deserves to be heard as Gabriel has a talent for composing which is worth showing off.