It’s fitting that the liner notes to “Interior City,” the new album by The Gabriel Construct, feature the phrase “welcome home.” The new CD by vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Gabrial Lucas Riccio features players from Salisbury, Selbyville, Ocean Pines, Bethesda and Annapolis.
The album was also produced locally, at West Main Recording in Salisbury.
Riccio began playing piano in the 3rd grade, and started experimenting with electronic music in middle school. At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 2011, Riccio composed mostly chamber music.
“I developed quite a stockpile of material prior to properly recording a record,” he said. “I had many groups of songs which could be records of their own, all in distinct styles. After graduating, I started writing full time. ‘Interior City’ was simply the album which ended up being completed first – perhaps because it was the album I most needed to get out of my system.”
The final product, which took more than a year to record and master, is a sprawling full-length record reminiscent of artists from Bach to King Crimson.
“I attempt to listen to all of the music I possibly can in as many different styles as possible, and learn something about all of it in order to add more tools to my toolbox,” Riccio said. “The genres I have explored most are rock, jazz, classical, underground rap and electronic music, and world traditions such as Balinese Gamelan and Indian classical music – but I’m always open to exploring new styles.”
The album’s second track, “Ranting Prophet,” cycles through many of those genres.
“That song began with a leftover piece of my string quartet, and I ended up incorporating all sorts of things into that basic framework – a quotation of 20th Century French composer Olivier Messiaen, a double-drum part using a sampled ’80s Genesis beat which turns polymetric in the bridge, Arabic vocal ornaments, blast beats, a Nine Inch Nails-style yelled vocal approach, [Charles] Mingus-style simultaneous soloing in the intro, and a violin solo which quotes [Béla] Bartók’s string quartets,” he said. “I hadn’t intended to incorporate so many different influences into the song – it simply ended up coming out that way in a natural fashion.”
Much of the supporting cast for “Interior City” was cobbled together after a chance meeting.
“At a doctor’s appointment, a nurse started telling me how her son was an audio engineer with a local studio,” Riccio said. “Of course, I assumed this meant he was a teenager with a ‘studio’ in his basement, but then she told me that he had credits on Train and Shinedown records. I couldn’t believe that someone with credits like those could be in Salisbury, so I decided to look him up online, and it all turned out to be true.”
Riccio scheduled a meeting with engineer Garrett Davis, who then suggested drummer Travis Orbin play on the album.
“I had been a fan of Travis since high school, as he is somewhat of a local legend, most notorious for playing in the DC-based band Periphery,” Riccio said “I was floored; I couldn’t believe that there was a possibility that I could get someone that talented to play on my debut!”
Orbin recommended bassist Thomas Murphy and producer Taylor Larson, who mixed and mastered “Interior City.” The rest of the lineup consists of longtime collaborators.
“I knew that I wanted David Stivelman to play the guitar on the album, since we had been friends since first grade and he was an incredibly talented player,” said Riccio. “Sophia Uddin and Soren Larson were both college classmates who had previously performed my chamber music, and I’ve been dating Sophia for two-and-a-half years now.”
Joe Borzotta, Riccio’s mother’s cousin, painted the album’s cover.
Riccio said he has already begun recording the next two TGC records. First and foremost, however, he wants to put a touring band together.
“I am moving to Chicago in a month to assemble a live lineup to perform ‘Interior City,’” Riccio said. “I plan to record half of the second TGC album with session players here, and the other half with said live lineup. I am also working on a full-length record with local progressive rock band Ocuplanes from Ridgely, Maryland, out of my newly constructed home studio.
“Lastly, I am slowly writing and recording a collaborative pop record with Travis Orbin, the drummer on all of the TGC material. I would also like to release an album of classical chamber music at some point, as I have quite a bit written that I would like to release in a more formal fashion.”
“Interior City” is available on Amazon.com and iTunes, or through Riccio’s website thegabrielconstruct.com.”