Now this is a tough one. Not easy to digest and after giving this release some multiple spins, even more difficult to write about. Let’s just start easy with some useful information about Interior City and the guy behind it, composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Gabriel Lucas Riccio from Salsbury, MD.
As a kid Gabriel started playing the piano and when he got to middle school he already began to experiment with electronics. In 2011 he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. Since then he wrote and recorded a lot of material and from that stack came Interior City his debut album. With the aid of drummer Travis Orbin, bassist Thomas Murphy (both from the band Periphery) and other musicians on sax and violin, Gabriel constructed a multi-layered concept story, both musically as lyrically.
With a unique sound sprawling across many, many musical styles from avant-prog to metal to classic minimalism to djent, Interior City tries to describe in music the paranoia and the escapism that would occur to a person when he would be mentally programmed. Something that sounded like SF some decades ago but nowadays becomes more and more reality with the current ultra-fast move towards singularity. Food for thought for sure and I can only compliment Gabriel for his achievements to create this indeed hallucinatory experience that leaves you numb after 72 minutes. Every piece on the album is a tumultuous ride from one style to another and back.
The album opens with ‘Arrival In A Distant Land’, a minimalistic piece of music on piano that soon becomes distorted before the vocals fall in. ‘Ranting Prophet’ also has this minimalistic approach but switches very quick to a kind of avant-garde progmetal, a bit similar to Swedish progmetallists Pain Of Salvation.
Already by this second track it is clear that Gabriel doesn’t choose easiest way to present his story. The dissonant guitars and piano, the multi-layered (and not always pleasant sounding) vocals, the complex (but fantastic) drum patterns and the often heavy distorted sound effects (including sax and violin), create a disturbing atmosphere that leaves the listener in a disoriented state. But there are some nice melodic and calm moments as well, clearly the works of Devin Townshend shine through on this album (especially on ‘Fear of Humanity’ and ‘My Alien Father’).
‘Subway Dwellers’ shows that despite the dense, complex music and the weird sounds Gabriel still is able to write strong melodie and ‘Defense Highway’ is a long piece that again showcases Gabriel search for multi-diversity within one song: a true attack on the senses.
‘Languishing In Lower Chakra’s’ is the strange title for a calm but dark piece of ambient music that was probably crafted to tickle the subconscious. A dream-like, or perhaps coma-like, state in which sound effects (from voices and maybe even field recordings) dominate a distant piano. With the finisher ‘Curing Somatization’ it’s back to the weird & wild noises causing your synapses to fire a multitude of neurotransmittors, leaving you in an ‘electrified’ state.
Interior City is an intriguing album that’s definitely not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. A musical whirlwind that slowly creeps under your skin. One thing is sure though, Gabriel Lucas Riccio is a very talented musician who writes fascinating pieces of music so I’m already very curious about a possible follow up.