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Review: Bib Gaby – John Frum/Fathmatic

I’ve seen a small handful of instrumental rock bands play in the greater Lowell area. Most of them have sounds characterized by angular and complex riffs, even more complex drumming, guitar effects, looping, extensive vamping, gradual volume build-ups, odd time changes etc. Most of these aforementioned musical traits commonly fall into the genres of math-rock and post-rock: the two genres that seem to influence the entirety of instrumental rock bands I’ve seen play the Lowell scene. That is, except for one- Bib Gaby.

The members of Bib Gaby began playing together in 2015 as students at Umass Lowell. They started playing live shows in 2017. They were friends who “shared a common interest in doom/sludge metal along with jazz fusion,” says guitarist Max Reifsteck. As a listener I will admit, Bib Gaby combined these two unlikely paired genres flawlessly.

The opening track “John Frum” is the perfect blend of jazz and metal. Reifsteck’s guitar playing is melodic and smooth yet crunchy at the same time. His licks are backed by Ryan Fleming’s groovy walking bassline, and Michael “Brown” Bloniarz’s upbeat polyrhythmic drumming. A little more than halfway through the track, the jazz sound seems to disappear as the trio goes full sludge metal. I almost expected to hear some Phil Anselmo style vocals, but the track remained instrumental as we were left with Reifsteck’s shredding rather than any thrasher metal style vocals.

The B-side, Fathmatic, is a longer song with an intro that consists mainly of feedback and various droning guitar sounds. There is percussion, but mainly the ringing of cymbals and a couple of tom hits. A solid beat doesn’t fully kick in until about 1:30 in. Fathmatic, similar to John Frum, combines elements of jazz fusion with sludge metal, but there are elements of space rock and psychedelic rock that weren’t present on the opening track. Overall, Fathmatic is a darker and more downbeat song. But you still get the same intricate rhythms and guitar shredding that seems to be consistent with the Bib Gaby sound.

Overall these two tracks exemplify a superb combination of jazz and metal- a sound I have not seen too much of, at least in the local scene. I was told these two tracks are a lead-up to a possible upcoming 5-7 track EP, which I plan to keep an eye out for. And you should too. – Dave Boz

For more info on Bib Gaby visit: www.facebook.com/BibGaby