The 2013 release "Unnamed Lands" is the first studio album from the duo of Tom Griesgraber (Chapman Stick, Stick Synth, bass pedals) and Bert Lams (guitars). And this ambitious instrumental travelogue back in time plays like a cross between the latest California Guitar Trio album and the soundtrack to a PBS documentary from filmmaker Ken Burns - known for such critically acclaimed documentaries as "The Civil War", "Baseball", and "The Dust Bowl".
But unlike the Ken Burn's documentaries which take full advantage of the media by utilizing moving pictures, still photography, and music, Griesgraber and Lams rely solely on instrumental music to convey their tale ... along with a twelve page booklet.
"Unnamed Lands" is the compelling saga of a group of early pioneers trekking across the country via wagon train, and the wonder and hardships they face on their arduous journey.
The booklet, with artwork designed by Jack and Laurent Duriex and story written by Tom Griesgraber, is in the form of a hand written diary scribed by an anonymous pioneer, jotting down highlights and observations along the way. Relating everything from dust storms, insect hordes, a fork in the road and division of the group, a bear rummaging through the camp provisions during a nocturnal raid, an Indian attack, to the eventual arrival of the ragtag group at their ultimate destination.
The music is an amalgamation of melodic folk and odd metered acoustic prog, and has been rightfully described by one reviewer as 'Progressive Americana'. This is an album I can imagine hearing played in one of the many Primitive Shops scattered across the heartlands selling candles, handmade arts and crafts, and Amish furniture.
The music is very reminiscent of Lam's work with The California Guitar Trio. And if you're a fan this is something you'll want to add to your collection.
Griesgraber tours both US and Europe regularly as a solo artists or with his two other projects Agent22 and Marotta/Griesgraber.
Both artists are highly respected in the music community having worked with, toured, or opened for such artists as Stanley Jordan, Andy Summers, Steve Hackett, Steve Morse, Bill Buford’s Earthworks, The Dixie Dreggs, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin Band, Tony Mastelotto, and Robert Fripp.
Lams and Griesgraber have been touring together since 2004 performing everything from original pieces from The California Guitar Trio to Bach, Chopin, progressive rock and spaghetti westerns.
The adventurous and highly polished "Unnamed Lands" is the culmination of that long-standing musical relationship.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on July 8th, 2014