mix for Beyond/Below

every once in a while I get asked to contribute a mix, and I was definitely cheered to get a request from
for the Beyond/Below series. lots of friends on this one.

Beyond / Below 48 by Billy Gomberg. Received January 2022.
Photo by BG

“We’ve lived in San Francisco for 4 years now (we moved on February 1st 2018). I have been a parent through that duration which is its own ride, and this has drawn me out of art and music and “adult life” circles that we were used to back in Brooklyn. I have let this undo my relationship to what I am listening to and when, and what if anything needs to be said about it. The way different air, different trees and an enviable proximity to the ocean work to lighten things that maybe used to act more crucial.

There are a grip of real life friends in this mix, and a lot of sound from the outside world, and the world that exists beyond the couple square miles I tend to inhabit. One track from Andy and one track from Andy & I as Fraufraulein which I think is a first for mixes I’ve made, I don’t know how else to thread my listening from myself outwards without genuinely starting there, the sound we have made for ourselves (here) as an origin or at least a signpost. So yeah, a mix of locations and some are real and some are abstract and some are in-between.”

Abby Lee Tee – At The Beaver Lodge II – The Kits Are Alright
anne-f jacques – poudrerie – échaudage
Andy Guthrie – Gyropedie – Hill, Mountain
Alyssa Moxley – Underdrift – Night smoke over the caldera
Marja Ahti – Still Lives – Ashes Over Hatching Eggs
Max Hamel – Sounds of Summer: Field Recordings of Solar Electronics – Side B (excerpt)
Josh Mason – Utility Music – San Francisco, 9 April, 1970
Kindohm – VR Sunset – New Beaches
Olli Aarni – Värejä hangella – Nokoset bussissa (edit)
Horaflora – Eaves Drop – Lunacy In The Garden Of Forking Paths (excerpt)
Kevin Corcoran-Giacomo Salis-Paolo Sanna – Sul filo – Ombra (excerpt)
fraufraulein – solum – 6
International Sangman – Death Roads & Spirit Ways – Dub 321
Etelin – Frisson – Purple with Bloom
Sydney Spann – Sydney Spann – Oceanic-E.L.M. – Fog Off Cedar Bonnet (excerpt)
Christian Michael Filardo – Rare Volume – Volume 1
Shuta Hiraki – 絹雲 Cirrus – 周辺 outskirts
Melissa Pons – Wolf Soundscapes – Gerês

Wilderness And Luxury bandcamp album image

Wilderness And Luxury (CS/digital, Dasa Tapes, 2022)

Wilderness And Luxury is my first album of creative music since 2018’s Beginners, and like last year’s Fraufraulein tape Solum, feels to me like creative practice and language catching up with my life in California. In other ways, I hear materials that I’ve been working with for years finding new expressions and clarity.

As ever, a poetry of personal language and public topographies, a potential for our inner language and responses to find a relationship together. A reckoning of the distance between people, shaped by our engagement with the world around us. Over the past 4 years of my life, I began to understand this topography as wilderness and luxury.

Similar to how Solum brought into relief the required changes of our relocation on how Andy & I create collaborative music, the materials and processes we have stuck with, and those that have lost connection, or are in ways unavailable to us right how, Wilderness And Luxury is my language changed. I think all of the electronic material was recorded on the floor of our bedroom in February and March of 2020, with headphones, over the low vibration noise of the large kitchen exhaust fan, above our ceiling, from the restaurant below our apartment.

The sunrise will flood our windows, we can see the trees from the same view, and on clear nights the colors of sunset reflect onto the city to our east. The sound of recycling and compost trucks wakes me most mornings, but the bus stops at the far end of the block are not as insistent. Climbing the small hill that crests our street, the mountains are visible across the bay. I spent a lot of time over the past two years out in this topography with our child, just going where we go and seeing what we see. The trees and the water is so close, a city has laid itself through and upon this, then wrapped itself with the same trees and water.

The selection, editing, mixing and sequencing of what has become Wilderness And Luxury took place mostly through the spring and early summer of 2020, with small adjustments as I lived with this work. Some of the field recordings are from our time in California, some are archival.

If you are not into bandcamp, or paypal, or venmo, or money, please hit me up and I will get you music.

Organ Grinder writer’s roundtable on Solum

A delightfully lucid and poetic collection of reviews of Solum from Organ Grinder’s group of writers, “….it lays suspended in tense liminality between the stratosphere and the dark underground…”

complete text below:

Fraufraulein, Solum (Notice Recordings, 2021)

From Bandcamp: “On their first release since 2017, the duo of Anne Guthrie and Billy Gomberg craft a world inhabited by both the familiar and foreign. Guthrie’s intimate vocals float like smoke over mysterious piano phrases; elements vacillating in and out of a sense of awareness. Bass and French horn, the duo’s main instruments, are inquisitive and gentle, often present as a whisper, a quiet wind, an exhale. Sounds exist as distant vertical pillars, soon shifting into three-dimensional shapes, spinning autonomously. In this album there are meticulously placed auxiliary sounds, including textural field recordings and object play. They complicate and enrich the rigorously sparse instrumental notes, resulting in pieces that, in a vividly engaging way, are less domestic than they are the music of dream-like errands, or an inverted walk through a residential neighborhood.”

Purchase Solum on Bandcamp.

Maxie Younger: I’ve been having a hard time looking at any kind of screen lately—I’m tired of waking up and scrolling on my phone for 20 minutes before I stumble out of bed, tired of turning on my laptop after breakfast to start the workday. I’m bothered by the matte-ness of it all, the bright surfaces that draw in light like localized black holes; when the tools power down, I don’t gaze at myself, but at darkness. Solum has been accompanying me through most of this disillusionment, and its wispy blend of field recordings, piano, esoteric vocal phrases, and deep stings of patchwork electronics is a perfect companion to unreality. In Solum’s universe, time stretches, lingers, snaps closed at the drop of a hat: tracks bump up against one another and fade outward like pond ripples, a waking dream in shades of grey, smoke-like, transient. It all stirs to life rather delicately, with Anne Guthrie’s voice meandering over swirling, murky waters of soft piano and blown-out sample collages, before cracking its shell from the inside out in “Untitled 3”: the air begins to rattle with thunderous bass tones that pull menacingly at your coattails, daring you to look down. This speaks to the fundamental power of Solum—it lays suspended in tense liminality between the stratosphere and the dark underground: to listen is to hover inches from the abyss. It’s a captivating package, and every time I experience it, I’m gladdened, inspired, and pulled out of my funk a little bit. I’m reminded that, any time I wish, I can close my eyes and look away from the world; and maybe, too, I can dream.


Audrey Lockie: “It started with rain / A simple mistake.” These lines, delivered in a wry, deadpan quasi-melody by Anne Guthrie on the second untitled track off Solum, point to the core ethos of her new album with Billy Gomberg as Fraufraulein. Every sound is at once passively incidental and monumental past its own appearance; both a coincidental combination of frequencies and a pack mule for the weight of context. The duo’s mélange of electroacoustic sounds, field recordings and art-song fragments negate the grounding effects any source materials might provide, relishing in the sonic illusions and misdirections inherent in a catch-all, never-stop-tinkering approach to music-making.

In many moments, as during the middle section of “Untitled 2,” this blend melts into a mangled construction like a haywire game of exquisite corpse. Atop burbling, rustling and scraping sounds, Guthrie intones a series of electronically treated, microtonal French horn passages that resemble the ghostly echoes of hunting calls. The conflict—between the horn’s languor and the fervor of the underlying clatter, between canned and organic sounds—paints a lopsided portrait that Fraufraulein sketch again through the mix of dull bell tones and noise bursts on “Untitled 3” and through the indistinguishable clatter of “Untitled 5.”

At either end of Solum lie whispered fragments of songs driven by piano and Guthrie’s plaiting, haunting voice. The duet’s firm tonalities offer the most jarring of the album’s willful juxtapositions: “Untitled 1” opens with a torrent of volatility and distortion, a frame-filling blur antithetical to the sparsity of Guthrie’s tune. When her voice returns in the closing track, the bed of sounds—here, blunted metals and lingering pops of noise—seems to bend and ebb underneath her intonations with natural grace. If the sonic sculptures still evade conventional shapes, at least now they possess a semblance of muscle memory, the comfort of familiarity in these still-strange forms.

Kevin McKinney: A few years ago, I lived in a basement apartment with a roommate who refrigerated mutton stew in lidless containers and played a weekly covers gig at an Irish pub; he therefore spent hours in our living room practicing Steve Miller Band and Van Morrison songs, singing ever more drunkenly without even sharing his Jameson. In that apartment, my bedroom was right next to the furnace, which roared and squeaked and clattered whenever it ran. Needless to say, I didn’t own noise-cancelling headphones, so my listening habits changed drastically over the few months I lived there. No “normal” song made sense—any words or melodies were sure to be drowned out or interrupted—so instead I was listening to harsh noise, Alan Licht’s “Minimal Top Ten / The Next Ten / Minimalism Top Ten III,” and the more extreme strains of free improvisation. Maybe you’ll think this is nonsense, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt closer with the music I was listening to than I did then. The songs I loved felt like physical forms, like actual barriers I could hide behind when not much in my home felt under my control.

In their artists’ statement, Anne Guthrie and Billy Gomberg mention the way the noise of a nearby restaurant’s exhaust fan impacted Solum’s recording. Its noise forced the duo either to wait until nighttime to make music, or to record while it was running, reckoning in improvisation with the way it affects their space. Maybe it’s because this kind of sense memory has such personal significance for me, but I find one key to Solum in the fifth untitled track, where what I assume must be the exhaust fan is most audible. Here, we hear quiet percussion, scraping, tapping, occasional bursts of electronic interference, Guthrie’s breath through her horn—all alongside the fan’s constant thrum. To me, this track encapsulates Solum’s big question: are Fraufraulein playing with the noise or against it?

Each time I listen to this album, I hear a different shade. I don’t think there’s a way to neatly describe how I feel about Solum except to say that I really like it and that it leaves me feeling unsatisfied and that I think this lack of satisfaction is important to my liking it. There’s a tension that draws me here again and again, a push and pull between comfort and frustration, discord and harmony—between a recording of wind and the microphone’s clipping.


Jinhyung Kim: I haven’t been sleeping too well these days. I usually take a “fake” nap right before (or after) dinner, where I just lie half-awake on my bed for an hour or so—I’m unable to fall asleep but too tired to do much else. In Solum, I hear a soundtrack for the groggy haze I experience during that hour: Anne Guthrie’s voice and horn playing drift ethereally above undulating waves of resonant white noise and restrained found-object splutter; whistling sines and creaking analog signals linger in the fog, drifting in and out of view, while Feldman-esque piano dissonance or Billy Gomberg’s muted bass guitar occasionally anchors the music in a more palpable eeriness. The audio tends to clip, blurring the contours of articulations and producing muffled distortion similar to the sound a microphone picks up in blowing wind. It’s all soothing in a way that isn’t explicitly comforting; Solum is a sonification of the barren yet teeming uncertainty through which I amble in my half-sleep, rather than a palliative for it.