CD Reviews – If Not If – Sunshine Everywhere / Forgiveness (Digital EPs)

It’s good to come across an artist once in a while that is prepared to push at the boundaries of their given genre. It would appear, on the strength of these two EPs, that Graeme Ginsberg, who works under the name If Not If, is one such musical character. He is a multi-instrumentalist who works in electronic music, by and large, although there is an extremely strong doffing of the cap towards progressive rock, jazz, post-rock, experimental, folk, new wave and world music to embellish the multi-faceted electronic world that his music creates. “Rules defined by their possibilities, possibilities defined by their rules,” Graeme notes. Over his lifetime he has immersed himself in the pop music on Top of The Pops, then moved to the album bands such as Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan and others, through to the jazz of Al Di Meola, Larry Carlton, Allan Holdsworth, Charlie Christian, John McLaughlin, Frank Gambale and beyond, to newer influences such as Living Colour, Brand X, Porcupine Tree, Phish, P-Funk and King’s X.

The four tracks that comprise Sunshine Everywhere EP began as guitar and synthesiser improvisations that have morphed and developed into something more structured and complex, running to some two hundred and forty recorded tracks. The music hints at atonality, and there is a kind of sound collage aspect that seems to run throughout the music. It is busy, energised and always inventive. There are contrasting moods, the individual tracks having distinctive characteristics of their own. Part I. Sunshine is lithe and relatively melodic before Part II. Eclipse ventures into fusion territory, with a muted trumpet blending well with the other sounds. Part III. Celebration Day employs some fascinating guitar sounds while Part IV. UV Burn provides a sort of balance of the previous moods, a certain reflectiveness.

Whilst maintaining an undoubted experimental edge, Forgiveness is the more customary of these two EPs. The pulse of the music remains resourceful and is not repetitive. It does not have the robotics that acts such as Tangerine Dream sometimes lapsed into, but retains a more schizoid air. The music is a reaction to the covid lockdowns, reflecting both the confinement and the subsequent release. Part I. Reflection is an electro-jazz piece, Part II. Negotiation again has some interesting guitar sounds with cyclical rhythms, while Part III. Acceptance is a delicate, almost fragile, piano piece. At various points throughout the tracks, you might hear something that hints at a more famous musician as a fellow traveller. Once in a while the synths have a Patrick Moraz aura about them, and there are sections that might have been summoned up by Vangelis. Other fellow travellers might be the Anglo-Scandinavian electro-jazz of the group Food, although the fare here is much more up-beat.

Over the course of these two releases Graeme proves himself to be an innovative and creative musician, able to push at the boundaries of a style thus avoiding the cliches that can often crowd it. The music is fluid and dextrous, busy but uncluttered. It is a kind of aural abstract expressionism; in that it is spontaneous and colourful without being flamboyant. It creates images with sounds. Although these sounds have been skilfully honed and crafted it is never detrimental to the immediacy of the music. It is both artful and thought-filled, but remains an entertaining listen throughout.

Sunshine Everyone

Pt. I Sunshine

Pt. II Eclipse

Pt. III Celebration Day

Pt. IV UV Burn

Graeme Ginsberg – guitars, synths and sound development

Release date: 26th November, 2021


Pt. I Reflection

Pt. II Negotiation

Pt. III Acceptance

Graeme Ginsberg – guitars, synths and sound development

Release date: 3rd December, 2021

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