Joshua Gabriel
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Joshua Gabriel

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"JoshuaGabriel"

- By Paul Polsinelli

that's one word.

he got rid of the space in his name and filled it with Substance. Mind brought forth a Creative edge, no apologies for his straight shooting, straight forward, but never straight laced Musical Vibe. yeah, he used to DJ too, but let's forget that for now. it's all about bringing forth the new agenda of new thought for the new audience; the ones that Connect more than Listen; the ones to whom Listening is just a physical thing.

took those old DJ LP's, touched a marker to them and let free flowing Thoughts in original code Express themselves unhindered. Hieroglyphic doodles on another man's trash and simple unnoticed, unappreciated, previously unliving objects; common man-made things the fabric of which is the canvass of Life. what the hell are these doodles? perhaps a maze leading to the innermost workings of your own Subjectivity, signposts of random Thoughts and cryptic shapes sometimes blocking, sometimes showing a new way through. delve in, get hypnotized by your own self connecting to the basicness of the formula. get stuck in a big piece of small details, each a small piece of the big detail.

there's a message coming out of Music and Art encoded in the binary ethers, resting in a place that doesn't really exist until called on and observed, knock? knock, the password is www.JOSHUAGABRIEL.com. it's reaching out, say Yes and let it touch you. go on a Journey into that Energetic space of Possibilities and consider that this one might be all or even Zen enough to be none. find it in the Lyrics, find it in the Notes, find it in the simple cryptic Drawings that make you stop short in Epiphany, but just find it.

Life reflecting Art, he dwells in an underground labyrinth, marked by a rusty, industrial, steel gate of Abstract twisted metal opening to stone stairs leading down into 'somebody lives here?' marked by details of Art and Life that makes your eyes Dance in Curiosity. in his abode the Writing is on the walls. past a twisting tunnel of roommate's doors, the living space abrupted by a boiler room torture chamber straight out of a B Movie; shitty lighting, stench of age and oil, decaying walls, pulsating heat and all.

sit in this Vibe and Postulate, share Ideas while he Strums along on his Guitar and adds Life and Meaning to you and him. there is no line between what is Real and what is conjured in conjecture in this World, Artist Epitomized. Space half residence, half Art studio, half Music house with stage and all. yeah, three halves equaling one Whole; stop and Think.

Awareness, Activism, politicl Liberal spectrum, this one's still trying to make a difference. Growing his Art and Music to the adulthood of Social Thought and just plain Thought. stopping and Considering so to Create, so to pass it on. Cool spirit, Coolness born out of rejecting "coolness."

"Hey Josh, you want money, and fame, and fortune?"

"Sure, that'd be nice too."

Real.

got politics? Yeeeaaah, Permeates his thing. tired, like you and me, of this right and that right. Wings open with both arms, catching the warm updraft of Change, swooping Left to divebomb the corporate agenda. This ain't no sparrow, it's a baby Eagle.

cant' overinflate it, got a natural release valve of Humble and 'I hear ya.' you be Straight and I'll be Straight. didn't hit the billboard pop charts yet but there's another chart called Spirit. Did his rounds on college radio, got some props. Don't think small, the young are more righteous. check his next show, Woden's day, April 28th, at the Sidewalk Cafe. don't Believe me, seeing is Believing.

why? because it is. random, maze variable, tangent, confused sense, Clearly hazed, invisible shield to those without Sight. that's Art, that's Music! Perfect in imperfection, you could miss it, dismiss it, look right past it, look right through it, even ignore it, but it will still be there, Daring you to Recognize it. Look into it, fall into it, Understand the Miracle; Creation made Life now Life Creates.

falling short of Bliss and landing somewhere around 'cooool' and 'thank you, my brother' is an Experience to have. Set that to music; a kind of easy folk with and edge sharp enough to wedge into your Conscious, beat just steady and heavy enough to Focus you right there. looks can be deceiving but you don't need eyes for this stuff, just a Brain and a Heart. Tune into the Rhythms of Vibrational Strings surrounding the things, feel it just outside the senses in that place that we can't quite put our fingers on but somehow Music and Art seems to know how to find it, especially good Art and Music.? - 11211 Magazine


"'Best Of 2003'"

He spray-paints his name on his tattered shirts, makes videos about himself, plays guitar, DJs, and draws on supermodels. He's JOSHUAGABRIEL, an ill-defined artist-musician whose creativity oozes into obscure forums. The true treats are his 40-minute freestyle tapes, in which he rhymes for 40 minutes nonstop while weeded out. A fluorescent sticker warns that frustration leads to "the development of a hyper-conceited egomaniac alter-ego who says his own name over 50 times on this one tape." (Could be a low estimate.) This, like much of his work, reads as a semi-intentional parody of the artist's ego.

-Chelsea Peretti - Village VOice


"JG"

MUSIC

By Eva Neuberg

JoshuaGabriel


When I showed an acquaintance the artwork for Joshua Gabriel’s new CD, the immodestly titled Movement No. 2: Rebel for the New Millennium, he frowned at the microscopic squiggles, faces, dollar signs and mathematical symbols–Keith Haring crossed with electronics diagrams–that filled the sleeve, calling it "pretty obsessive."


Gabriel’s art, in whatever medium, consists of giving his obsessions free rein (a track on his first CD and his award-winning short film are both titled "Get Addicted"). Gabriel says he thinks that "the work shows I’m definitely an obsessive-compulsive person. The music tracks are thought out to an insane degree. The drawings are tiny, tiny little things filling up a big space."


Like much electronic music, Gabriel’s employs samples from a staggeringly broad range of genres–operatic vocals, shimmering harps, Chinese, Indian, soul and funk. These are mixed, layered and looped with his own contributions on drums, guitar, bass and turntables. But Gabriel’s music isn’t an exercise in eclecticism, nor is it a collage or a pastiche. It’s distinguished by the rigors of its construction, and those rigors are clearly audible. You can hear his obsessive sensibility at work as each sound is milked for every possibility it contains, repeated again and again–to a beat–until it’s transformed in the listener’s mind; decayed, delayed, embellished with echoes and otherwise tweaked. Seemingly exhausted, a sound source–girlish voices singing a folk song in a foreign language, for example–will disappear only to return again in a perfectly synchronized and, for the listener, almost physically anticipated manner.


Gabriel’s songs are structured with a regularity and symmetry like that of classical music, probably reflecting his childhood and teenage training in classical piano and guitar. The schematics he provides on the back of the CDs–section titles like "I-I-I-I-I-I-I love you" or "uh!!! Dr. breakdown"–are basically just descriptive, with the "Dr." meaning drums. Vocalists stammer and stutter (I-I-I, uh-uh-uh) while other samples skitter across the bed of beats like dragonflies on a pond. A listener can actually use the titles to figure out where he is in the song or piece. While this may sound incredibly nerdy, it’s part of what gives the work an old-school hiphop feel. The textures are spare, even minimalistic–you could call Gabriel a hiphop Steve Reich–but while he uses few sounds, he’s doing more with each of them, working them harder. This music demands and inspires close attention, heightening the listener’s awareness of what, sonically speaking, goes into even the simplest of utterances. As Gabriel says, "It’s not dance stuff, it’s sit-down-and-listen stuff. Like Pink Floyd or something, sit down with the headphones. At the same time, it’s got a groove and you can dance to it if you want to, and it’s definitely inspired by a lot of dance music. But it’s not go-crazy-at-the-club music."


So where are the outlets for it? Recently Gabriel spun and displayed some art at 85A, and he has an upcoming show of art and music at CB’s 313 Gallery. He also did a daytime set at CMJ that won him a lot of new fans. But generally, he says, "I take shows where I can get them. I’ve been playing a lot of colleges lately and that’s a good format for me. I’m trying to make a market for myself, but it’s hard… I send my CDs to a magazine and they’re like, ‘Is it house? Is it hiphop?’ There’s generally a page for experimental or abstract music," but, as even the most casual listener can attest, there’s nothing abstract about Gabriel’s music, which is pretty funky and beats-oriented. "It’s experimental and I don’t think I’m working in a genre, but I try to make it a little bit accessible. It’s not avant-garde noise stuff, some of it is even catchy in a weird way. More like DJ Shadow, Tricky, DJ Krush."


After his early classical training Gabriel played guitar in punk bands and then took up the drums. But by the time he got out of college (art school in his native Philadelphia) he "started to think that band music wasn’t really where it was at." This was influenced, of course, by the obsessiveness–"I kind of needed to work alone"–but also by what he was hearing around him. "At that time–and this idea has since changed–hiphop was so good in that period. It was like early Wu-Tang Clan, Gang Starr–I bought turntables thinking that a lot of the best producers were DJs. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, a lot of the drum and bass guys." When he came to New York four years ago Gabriel started hanging out at Konkrete Jungle, the long-running drum and bass party, and "I started watching the DJs. My idea with the turntables was originally just to get okay at it, just enough to sort of incorporate those ideas into whatever I was doing, but I started to practice and practice and I started to get good at it… Having some musical training made it an easy transition."


Despite hiphop’s artistic decline as it reached its commercially successful apex–and that decline being accompanied by the emergence of a new crop of exciting bands–Gabriel still isn’t overly taken with the band music he hears around him. He prefers classic groups like the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix and the Who. (A self-indulgent yet charming interlude on Rebel features him and his brothers debating which Beatles album is the best.) "I still think the innovative things being done in music are mostly DJ stuff, producer-driven stuff, but I’ve kind of gone back now and I love everything. I like Oasis. There’s always good musical stuff being done in all forms."


I asked Gabriel how his compulsive tendencies translate into a live show. Does his work get looser? After all, this is a man who once battled and defeated a computer-controlled robot DJ at the Compound warehouse in Brooklyn. His response: "The way the tracks [on the CD] are set up, they call for me to improvise. There are parts that are just improvised, maybe the drum track was there beforehand, but that’s it. With the DJ stuff too, there’s stuff that’s planned, routines that I do, but 50 percent of it is improvised. Scratching…is like playing a horn in jazz, like you’re soloing over the other song. So the work is obsessive and detailed and crafted, but it starts with improvising."


There’s something unmistakably urban about the sensibility that runs through all of Gabriel’s work, and this, too, puts him in touch with the heritage of hiphop. Despite plenty of rhymes about dealing and shooting, the sound of most commercial hiphop has grown increasingly plush and luxurious. Gabriel’s work, with its touches of sitars and snippets of what could be overheard music or conversation, seems a little more "street" in a literal, not roughneck, sense. This can be seen in his film, Video 1: Get Addicted, where the camera pans over models on billboards and mannequin torsos in shop windows. Gabriel graffitis his drawings on an ad on the side of a phone booth and walks down a winter street making turntable-spinning motions with his hands.


There’s an element of social commentary to his work: as he says of his drawings, many of which are done on the bare torsos of models in photos from the Victoria’s Secret catalog, "as a man you’re seeing these pictures of these beautiful women that are shot perfectly and you’re going to have a reaction to that. It’s a little disturbing, though, that you walk around Times Square and there’s like 60-story women in underwear. I love these pictures of these women but I kind of hate them, too, because I don’t want to walk around being constantly titillated."


Sensory overload is part of the urban experience; Gabriel’s music and art are his attempt at revenge, at imprinting himself on the chaos, whether very literally (the drawings) or more subtly, with the imposing of new structures and new contexts on music and sounds. (At one point in our interview he referred to the people on the records he uses as his "collaborators"–though he’s careful also to note that he’s increasingly using sounds generated from his own live playing.) Back when hiphop was mostly on sound systems and boomboxes, it also was an attempt to reclaim the urban environment. "Human vs. Machine" (as Gabriel’s battle against DJ I-Robot was called) indeed.


Filtering, digesting and restructuring what he’s heard is Gabriel’s m.o. He describes being at rave parties a few years back: "They’d have different rooms, there’d be a house room, a drum and bass room, a hiphop room. I’d check out all the rooms, I kind of liked what was going on in all of them, and those ideas came out when I started doing my own stuff."


Joshua Gabriel’s music and art will be showcased Sat., Dec. 29, at CB’s 313 Gallery, 313 Bowery (Bleecker St.), 677-0455. - New York Press


"album review 2004"

Phil Ochs and Flavor Flav had their DNA tossed into a test tube and Gabriel came out of the lab. Pissed off suburban Jewish guy comes to the big city, makes an impact with the insiders and becomes the toast of the town. There aren’t any songs here Sheryl Crow could cover (every Dylan needs a Baez), but if you’ve been wondering where the anti-folk pissed off voice that speaks for you is going to come from, this must be the place. - Midwest Record Recap


"album review 2004"

His fist shaking at the man will occasionally remind folks of Dylan, but he’s more G-Love and Special Sauce or Lou Reed. In the post ‘04 election theft, JoshuaGabriel’s voice is as important as it ever was and is refreshing in the nonsensical “healing” period that the press has shoved down our throat. Activists will flock to his show but so will superstar models because this is so damn fresh (and yet will never sell itself out). - smother.net


Discography

Movement No. I - EP
Movement No. II - EP
JoshuaGabriel - LP
21st Century Blues - EP
Walk the Plank - LP

all releases have receiveda college and internet radio airplay. Streaming tracks are available at http://myspace.com/joshuagabriel and http://joshuagabriel.com

Photos

Bio

Recently transplanting himself to the Bay Area,
the Brooklyn-known, Philly-born inventive artist
Joshua Gabriel combines his kaleidoscope of
influences into his latest release, “Walk the
Plank.” An alternative rock, psychedelic-folk
bender that channels wave paths of early Beck,
Bob Dylan, and the oddities of Tom Waits, Joshua
Gabriel’s newest shows off the diversities of raw,
beat driven rock. With its dirty guitar snarls,
overdriven vocals lines, hard-hitting drums, and
a stream-of-conscious lyrical approach, Walk
the Plank provides a concoction of warped
imagery, merciless innovation, and a no
boundary attitude reminiscent to that of early
90’s alternative rock pioneers.

An avid artist, musician, writer, filmmaker, and
DJ, Joshua’s creativity has shaped a defining
sound for a new breed of multi-instrumentalist
and artists. DIY boundaries are being torn and
trampled, with Joshua independently producing,
recording, and releasing 3 EP’s and two full
length albums, each with a unique taste of
staggering loops, raw, hard funky beats, and
political subject matter. His latest is his most
valiant effort to date, as Walk the Plank is a
satirical stream of overdriven rhythmic
stampedes, complete with shrouds of the
deepest, most eclectic parts of Joshua’s brain.

Produced by Chris Peck and Joshua Gabriel, and
recorded at Performance Control Studio in
Boston, Walk the Plank is a 14B release.

-kyle sturtevant, massive music america