Billy Gomberg makes his Strange Rules debut with a standout release – minimalistic but completely engaging cross-sections of nuanced electro-acoustic, textural studies and ambient music. Seeming at once industrialised, waves of half-imagined melodies fill the space, just enough for the bloom to show through.
Deeply rewarding and vital listening for colder months and near-perfect grey skies.
from Rest + Noise:
The formation of a different language takes place on Quiet Barrier: flickering rhythms, receding walls of electronic sound, and warped melodic figures occupy the space where words and terminology once stood. It’s a process that Brooklyn-based Billy Gomberg has inhabited before with releases on such labels as Experimedia, and/OAR, and The Land Of. Here, with synthesizers and custom digital processing, Gomberg arrives at a complex album of shifting tones, kaleidoscopic hues, and crackling debris that flows with a clear, exacting vision.
Though wholly electronic in execution, Quiet Barrier is not designed, sequenced, or digitally overwrought. It is music that is played and constructed in real-time, relying on a moment to moment interaction between musician and instrument. Such an approach explains in part why Quiet Barrier unfolds with an unmitigated motion, propelling itself forward in a linear manner. The outcome, like any good narrative, is a sound that can’t be rushed or interrupted, only followed and absorbed. Quiet Barrier follows the 2009 collaboration with Offthesky, Flyover Sound, which was nominated for the Paris-based Qwartz electronic music award in experimentation and research.
I have copies as well, so feel free to contact me if that is yr style.
Katie English for Fluid Radio:
With several solo releases and collaborations under his belt, sound artist Billy Gomberg follows on from 2009′s Flyover Sound collaboration with Offthesky with Quiet Barrier, a solo work that provides a meditative exploration of purely electronic soundscapes and textures
Opening track ‘Instants’ offers an array of flickering sonics, with various timbres weaving amongst each other. From disjointed square waves to shimmering drones and intermittent clicks it sets the ground for this surprisingly organic sounding album. Although all the sounds heard on this release are created electronically there is no stylised perfection at work here, Gomberg very much taking the part of musician over programmer.
As suggested by the title, ‘Partial to Appearance’ is a drifting study of harmonics, moving from dense, low tones to high frequency textures so gradually that attention is never drawn to the change of sound, simply allowing the listener to be immersed in the rich textures. Throughout the album, various processed waveforms float serenely through a background chatter of static and glitches, the disjointed and improvised nature always maintaining the human qualities of the music.
The somnambulant quality of tracks such as ‘Night With Cheap Stars’ allow the listener room to hear the minutiae of sounds at work here. It is hard to make something that is both sparse and immersive and yet Gomberg manages it, creating a cocoon like feeling with a minimum of sound. In many of these works Gomberg conveys a sense of space; for instance, the oddly watery textures of the aptly titled ‘Snow’ bring to mind a gentle thaw, the melting ice slowly dripping from rooftops. Closing track ‘The Ends of Breaths’ gently brings the album to a static close with occasional pulses appearing throughout a minimal texture of grainy tones and low frequency rumbles.
All in all a superb study in electronic warmth. Often attempted and yet rarely achieved, Gomberg manages to maintain a very human element throughout the work, creating a beautiful sound source that conveys a strong atmosphere within minimalistic aesthetics.
thanks for Ryan for doing this one nicely, and Gil Arno for the lovely slides.