I sent a demo tape to Rhythm Magazine (Drum!) before I moved from Syracuse, NY in 1988. I recorded a 4 song demo of ideas I created with an old Ensoniq SQ80 synthesizer/workstation. I just found all the pieces for this post, even the photo. I thought the recordings were long gone, and just found the review in a box labeled “Things to Scan” that have been in a closet for a couple decades … well, better late than never, and now I have the time. Here is the review, and the demo recording. Is what it is. 😊
Rhythm Magazine: RUFF CUTS
The best from the bravest are reviewed by the ballsiest… the Marquis de Rhythm rides again!
Frank Briggs is a recently displaced resident of Syracuse, New York, who just arrived in Burbank to accelerate his music career. Briggs has an impressive background that includes a tenure as the drummer of a highly successful band from the northeast who toured the area extensively and had an album that made the charts several years back. He is well versed in all facets of contemporary drumming, from programming (of which he is a big advocate), playing with click tracks, triggering, MIDI and synth programming, to being a skilled technician of the acoustic kit.
His tape contains four extended self-performed, written and programmed tunes, that exude professionalism from the first bar. ‘No Age’ blends simple effective patterns with some more intricate triggered percussive augmentation, pedal bass lines and vocal tinged keyboard samples. The patterns bleed into new forms, and two nicely harmonized melodies emerged and recede periodically during the tune. It creates a sort of grand, yet dark sentiment that would be à propos as a film score – perhaps for Rocky Rides the Midnight Express. ‘Electric’ has a highly unusual and ponderous drum intro, and as the pattern moves from busy to spare, another complimentary pattern begins, two distinctive melodies emerge and Briggs employs a curious bass effect, sounding remote, yet penetrating whole notes. The material has nice overlapping layers, never giving you too much, but always keeping it in motion, resembling the Rippingtons sans the guitar at times.
Briggs’ tunes are a definite journey, and he has a penchant for unfolding structures rather than rigid compositional forms. He displays chops and technical agility with a supercharged, yet controlled drum solo, that reveals his time spent under the tutelage of Jack DeJohnette. Remaining cool, he never overplays, and the tune shifts into a brief section with 16ths in the bass and quarters on the snare to change the groove. ‘Go West’ opens with thunder-like whole notes, one of his favorite devices, and the melody voice has a bit more intensity this time, reminiscent of Rick Wakeman. ‘Big Brook’ ends the tape with the nicest keyboard solo on the offering, which effectively tells a story, accompanied by some nice popping bass lines. The only missing ingredient on the song and the whole tape in general are other musicians to bring some additional contrast to the material.
More than anything else, Frank Briggs’ tape is a showcase of talent and maturity.