Gunwale matches veteran Chicago saxophonist Rempis up with two of the up-and-coming stars from the next generation of Chicago improvisers. Packard is known mostly for his extensive work as a composer and percussionist within the thriving contemporary classical scene in Chicago, while Wildeman has achieved fame for his meteoric rise from novice instrumentalist to one of the busiest players in town after relocating to Chicago from the Netherlands in 2011 to immerse himself in the city's broad-shouldered music world. These two contribute noticeably fresh perspectives to this ongoing and ever-evolving local dialogue, a world of which Rempis has been a flagship member for almost two decades. As a trio, their voice carries a unique shape, combining a love for full-on blasts of energy with a sensitivity to the smallest details, resulting in music that can be a freight train one moment, and an insectoid microcosm the next. The band released their first recording “Polynya” on Aerophonic Records in the summer of 2016, and toured the U.S. in support of that record with fourteen concerts in October of 2016.
…Gunwale is a band, and Rempis is not the only reason to hear it. The other members are from a later generation of musicians who are not only versed in Rempis' integration of hard-hitting free-jazz and non-idiomatic improvisation, but bring their own experiences in new music and rock as well as jazz. The rough textures of Wildeman's bowed bass and Packard's sputtering, groaning electronics root the music only to have the stasis undercut by fleet, plucked lines and dense pile-ups of battered sound. In free improvisation, growth comes from exchange, and these musicians give as many ideas as they get.” –Bill Meyer, DOWNBEAT
Tenuous ship schematic metaphors aside, Gunwale has proven particularly adept at keeping above water in the high and sometimes tempestuous seas that commonly characterize careers in improvised music. –Derek Taylor, DUSTED MAGAZINE
“…they all find common purpose on Gunwale's recent debut, Polynya, a ferocious outing charged with the heightened friction this rhythm section generates: Wildeman, for example, turns his double bass into a thrumming drum on Wire, while Packard plays so softly on Bevel his kit sounds as if it's in another room. There's a greater attention to texture here than is typical of other Rempis projects' particularly when the trio cools down and Packard serves up abstract electronics alongside rumbling, koanlike percussion patter while the saxophonist plays wonderful, abstract tones reveling in sibilant whistles and scrapes. That's not to say the rhythm section lacks firepower or raw energy; it alertly responds to Rempis' primal howls, tightly wound sallies, and violently serrated lines, and on Liner Wildeman and Packard even drop some off-kilter funk grooves. Gunwale is still in its early stages, and I'm eager to hear where Rempis and company take its potential.” –Peter Margasak, CHICAGO READER