Ray was Gentle Giant's bassist and one of the main composers. He is also known for his quadraphonic violin solos that sonically circled the concert hall as he played. Ray passed away on March 30, 2023.
As a bassist, Ray is perhaps one of the most underrated in rock. Thomas Wictor, in his column "Unsung Bass Stylists" (Bass Player Magazine, January/February 1994), writes about Ray's performance on Playing The Fool:
- Ray Shulman certainly qualifies as one of the most creative and innovative bassists ever. He weaves unbelievably complex and confounding lines that draw on medieval, classical, funk, rock, and jazz influences. His attack often sounds like a cross between picking and slapping, adding intensity and power to his already unforgettable licks. "Free Hand," from its syncopated intro to its thunderous finale, is a textbook example of how this brilliant musician improvises and plays off the other members of the band to produce a stunning live performance.
After Gentle Giant
From approximately 1982-86, Ray wrote lots of music for TV and cinema commercials, including some for the US: most notably, two for Nike Air Jordan, and one for Budweiser. He stills write the occasional commercial, having recently completed a pan-European campaign for Gordons Gin and Tonic.
From 1986 onward, Ray got more involved with record production. He produced The Sugarcubes Life's Too Good, The Sundays Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, Ian McCulloch's Candleland. These all sold rather well, particularly the first two which sold over a million copies. Ray also produced and played bass on A.R. Kane's album 69. (He plays on the tracks "Crazy Blue," "Baby Milk Snatcher" and "Spermwhale Tripover.") He reportedly produced and arranged tracks on A.R. Kane's "Americana" album as well.
Ray did two 12-inch vinyl records under the pseudonym "Head-Doctor," recording on Millenium Records. He also appears on a techno collection on CD.
Ray started Orinoco Sound Source with partner Tom Astor a few years ago, to provide all audio elements for computer games. They have a troup of actors they use regularly, and sound designers. Ray writes a lot of the music. The highest profile game he's written music for is Privateer 2: The Darkening, starring Christopher Walken and John Hurt. He also wrote the music for Azrael's Tear.
In early 2000, Ray produced a British artist called Tam for his brother Derek's record company, Roadrunner Records. The release date for "Hello My Friends Do You Read Me" is March 2000.
Other artists Ray has been involved with include Boo Hewerdine (production on History and Ignorance), Grace Kairos (produced her album Emotions Park), The Veldt Afrodisiac, Lulabox, and Granati Brothers Hard Core.
In 2005, Ray Shulman created the music for the DVD, African Skies, which he co-produced with his nephew Simon King, an award-winning natural history cameraman and TV presenter.
At some point, I hope to get a complete list from Ray of all his musical accomplishments since Gentle Giant.
Derek Shulman posted this note on Facebook upon Ray's death:
I am deeply saddened to announce that my younger brother and my best friend Ray Shulman passed away on March 30th at his home in London.
I was with him until the end as he bravely battled a long illness. At least I know he is now at peace.
Ray really was a genius in so many ways. He was such a kind and caring soul.
He was an incredible composer, musician, music producer & tech wizard.
He was a true artist and preferred to stay in the background and let his body of work speak for him rather than talk about himself.
Together with myself and my elder brother Philip he was a founding member of Simon Dupree & The Big Sound and subsequently Gentle Giant.
He went on to produce artists like The Sundays, The Sugarcubes, Ian McCulloch and many more.
More recently he devoted his tech and musical expertise in authoring and remixing other artists.
He will be deeply missed by the music community as a whole. More importantly, I will miss him as my brother and truly my best friend. He leaves behind his wife Barbara Tanner & his older brother Philip. To all who knew Ray or know of him ‘Think of him with kindness’.