If Not If - Structure

If Not If – Structure

Released in June 2023, Structure is the first album from London based multi-instrumentalist and composer Graeme Ginsburg under his ‘If Not If’ alter-ego. Graeme’s third release as If Not If follows up the two EPS (Sunshine Everywhere 2018 & Forgiveness 2021) and continues his experimental adventures in progressive rock. If you like your instrumental progressive music alternative, edgy and flirting with the outer fringes of the art-rock/prog scene, then this my friends is going to be right up your alley.

The 12 tracks on here vary from dark industrial music more akin to elements of Nine Inch Nails, as on the dramatic Curious Architecture where frantic percussion is married to incendiary guitar work, merging several musical idioms, creating a satisfying whole that will hook you with its adventurous style.

Ginsberg doesn’t just push at the edges of genres, he breaks down the walls, allowing his varying influences to play in the wreckage. In fact, the opening Illusion suite with its four parts is a satisfying musical epic, forming a perfect encapsulation of Ginsberg’s compositional and performance strengths, his fluid guitar work on Daydream having elements of the silky style of Gilmour, whilst threatening at points to escape. The counterpoint that Second Wind is far more electronically driven, almost veering into experimental languid drum n bass, and has elements of 90’s musical artists like The Orb or System 7 skittering through it, like the drumming sounds that underpin it all.

There other long suite on here is Hard Boiled, which is split into three diverse and interacting parts, combining dense jazz sax with some intense and groovy drumming, producing a real toe tapper that has soul and groove. Not only does Ginsberg understand the art of composition and juxtaposition of sounds and styles, but he also lives and breathes it, and this is clear throughout this release. You never quite know where he’s going to next, and that is part of the fun and enjoyment of this album.

This doesn’t mean that the album skitters about between genres and never knows where to settle, but this approach, in less skilled hands, would have come across as scattergun. Instead, armed with his innate musical knowledge and skill, (and some amazing guitar chops particularly on the out there solo in Hard Boiled 1: Fusion), Ginsberg is able to fluidly blend these diverse styles and attitudes into one satisfying coherent whole.

Like any great chef, the proof is in the tasting, and this is, if you don’t mind me mangling a metaphor here, cordon bleu music for the ears.

Listening to the way the drums and guitar and bass intertwine, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a tight band who’d honed their skills up and down the country in small, smoky bars – the fact that this is the work of a one-man musical machine blows me away every time I listen to it.

There is plenty more of that fluid incendiary guitar work on Illusion – the intro Start is three minutes of riff heavy rock that would appeal to fans of bands like The Fierce and the Dead, and you can imagine him having a blast as he puts that guitar through its paces.

You can’t help but get in the groove again, and that is one thing this album is full of, moments that get your feet tapping or your head nodding as he pulls out riffs from thin air, backed by some sublime drum work.

The repetitive insistent riff that runs through That Reminds Me is superb, and like all the best instrumental albums, this has plenty of hooks and musical counterpoints to keep you interested and immersed in its beauty.

Tracks like Vegas Nights and the albums the six minute finale Weightless (Somewhere On The Road To Recovery) continue to showcase Graeme’s versatility and his adept genre-fluid approach to composition and song writing. Weightless brings a calming vibe to the album, ending in fine form.

If Not If is one of the most interesting and exciting musical artists I’ve heard in the last few years and Structure will enhance Graeme Ginsberg’s reputation amongst discerning progressive fans who are looking for something new that pushes at the barriers of the genre they love and shows that his musical palette and compositional skills continue to evolve over his musical journey.

01. Illusion Part I: Start (3:53)
02. Illusion Part II: Daydream (4:51)
03. Illusion Part III: Second Wind (3:30)
04. Illusion Part IV: The Looking Glass (5:43)
05. Curious Architecture (6:44)
06. Hard Boiled Part I: Fusion In A Lounge Bar (5:52)
07. Hard Boiled Part II: Progression (6:51)
08. Hard Boiled Part III: Conclusion (1:48)
09. That Reminds Me (3:44)
10. Time On My Hands (4:02)
11. Vegas Nights (6:00)
12. Weightless (Somewhere On The Road To Recovery) (6:49)

Total Time – 59:47

Graeme Ginsberg – All Instruments

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 9th June 2023

If Not If – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp