Quiet Barrier
(CD, Rest + Noise, 2011)

quiet barrier

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.

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Bill Meyer, Tokafi:

Welcoming the close listener: Something distressed, but quite beautiful.

At a point when most non-pop (or might that be semi-popular?) electronic musicians are looking back to the pre-digital era for inspiration, Brooklyn-based Billy Gomberg distinguishes himself by tilling earth too old to be new, but certainly not rooted in what’s happening now.

The most obvious precedents for Quiet Barrier are Rafael Toral’s Wave Field and Aeriola Frequency or Oval’s Systemisch, although his means of production are all his own. He doesn’t use guitars or skipping CDs, but a Roland synth, a computer, and maybe a drum machine. What Quiet Barrier has in common with those records is the application of distortion to electronic and electrical emissions in ways that fray tones into something distressed, but quite beautiful. This music is friendly and forgiving of the listener who just wants to bask in the sound, but also welcomes the close listener, the one who will notice in the a-rhythmic beats that pop out hear and there a wormhole that opens up in the Black Ark c. 1977, or that will detect in the slowly extending tendrils that grow out of “Hearts In Red” a link between musical and horticultural roots.

Put another way, this is rich and lovely stuff.
(www.tokafi.com/news/billy-gomberg-quiet-barrier/ )

Katie English, 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.

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

Among NYC denizens that deal with this end of the music spectrum, Gomberg’s solo work stands rather apart. It’s resolutely gentle and more or less tonal, harkening to Fennesz as much as anyone else (although sonorities of Terry Riley creep in as well), most rougher elements swaddled in ringing synth tones and billowing organ-y swells. I like it pretty well both for the sheer aural delight, which is considerable, but more for the subtle twists and turns it tends to take–nothing dramatic, it simply often ends up a few steps removed from where you thought it was going. Rough, burred edges often intrude on the lushness, faint rhythmic elements appear–wooden knocks here, slow, slow throbs there. There’s often enough a tinge of sourness as well, most clearly in the final piece, that tempers what might be an overly cloying smoothness.

It’s not overwhelming by any means but doesn’t make any pretense of being so. It’s quite ingratiating and a certain pleasure to simply languish in, which I enjoy doing very much.
(olewnick.blogspot.com/2011/10/moniek-darge-sounds-of-sacred-places.html )

Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere:

Billy Gomberg est le deuxième membre de Fraufraulein avec Andy Guthrie, celui qui fait basculer ce duo dans l’expérimentation brute. Pour cet album solo publié par Rest + Noise, il quitte les field recordings pour un synthétiseur et quelques touches d’électronique. Quiet Barrier donc, est un ensemble de huit pièces linéaires et cinématographiques, comme huit travellings le long de paysages désolés et poétiques. Chaque pièce décrit un paysage à travers des mélodies simples et mélancoliques, touchantes par leur aspect nostalgique (à l’image des polaroids présents à l’intérieur du livret). Les rythmes sont simples, lents et méditatifs, et la durée peut ressembler aux longs plans-séquences de Béla Tarr. Traversée nostalgique d’étendues tristes qui forment la matière sonore et narrative, une matière créée en temps réel, improvisée, comme si le filmé déterminait le film. Ces nappes sensiblement sombres et dépressives rendent une atmosphère générale poétique et délicate, mais aussi et surtout inhabituelle, car Gomberg n’hésite pas à superposer de nombreux éléments pour aboutir à une structure et à un agencement complexes des différents matériaux sonores utilisés. Différents éléments qui n’ont cependant pas une fonction purement timbrale, mais qui ont avant tout une fonction narrative et significative. Car Gomberg raconte huit pièces plutôt qu’il n’en compose, il peint huit tableaux aux tendances descriptives plus qu’abstraites. La structure semble être toujours au service de la lente contemplation de paysages désolés, une contemplation très affectée par des souvenirs et de nombreuses émotions qui forment de magnifiques textures sonores.

Peut-être trop agréable ou facile d’écoute pour certains, trop proche de l’ambient façon easy-listening, Quiet Barrier offre des tableaux aux frontières de l’abstraction et de la description, en agençant de manière parfois improbables des lignes mélodiques atypiques, comme si Sigur Ros était aliéné par des débris post-industriels. Car Gomberg est seul à dépeindre ces restes de civilisations et ses souvenirs, seul dans un univers pas nécessairement hostile – les sons ne sont jamais agressifs ou saturés, mais toujours doux et ronds – mais néanmoins dépressif. En tout cas, Gomberg lui-même semble se laisser guider par les sons, la structure paraît ainsi émerger petit à petit grâce à l’attention et à la sensibilité du musicien new-yorkais. Une sensibilité puissante qui se laisse affecter par une matière sonore tout d’abord contemplative, puis extatique. Huit tableaux singuliers, huit plans-séquences intenses et poétiques; entre le post-rock et l’ambient, entre la poésie intimiste et l’aridité de Pedro Costa.
(improv-sphere.blogspot.com.br/2011/11/billy-gomberg-quiet-barrier-rest-noise.html )

thanks for Ryan for doing this one nicely, and Gil Arno for the lovely slides.

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