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William Fields "Timbre"
An epic work of glitch genius from William Fields on the Gears of Sand label.

Ben Fleury-Steiner's Gears of Sand label has put out some truly wonderful music over the last year or two, with discs from some very bright stars in the electronic/ambient scene. With the release of "Timbre" by William Fields GofS have released what may be the standard for all other the label's releases to come, a powerful and emotive example of drone-y glitch based ambience that stands as some of the best work I've heard in the genre.

"Indra" opens the disc with a number of oscilating tones that give way to an ordered electronic cacophony. It's a beautiful thing and as you listen you can hear the development of shape and form, the growth of structure and reason. It's an excellent introduction to the ideas and concepts behind the disc and it serves as an excellent place for the disc to start.

"Fwoado" follows, resplendant with bursts of sound and snatches of melody and structure. I very much appreciate the way things start to become clear in this track, the way that a sense of reason emerges from the soundfield. Quite engaging.

Track three, "Nama (B)", skews the listener's sense of order by placing gravelly abstract sounds upfront in the mix with clear tone and fidelity, while a collection of distorted phrases plays in the background, just processed enough to make it difficult to identify or relate to them. It's a clever approach that works surprisingly well. By contrast, "Floating Point" builds on the blending of sounds from "Nama (B)", using similar sound sources but instead mixes them more equal footing. It succeeds in making the track more familiar to the listener, more in keeping with the way we're used to listening to music. As an experiment in perceived musicality the two tracks are certainly a very interesting and engaging study of our perceptions of the way music should sound.

"Brechia (Erosion)" takes on a more accessible sound with pleasing chiming tones. "Coretone" is a lovely minimal track, with static and oscilating drones combining to create a very effective soundscape. "Seaglass" incorporates a variety of fragile sounds that create a ringing bowl effect overtop a slight melody with very impressive results.

"Doux" is a very soft piece, a track suggesting a womblike security and safety to it. There is a feeling of guaziness about the track, a sense of warmth that I found most appealing. It's a lovely track and a true testimony to Fields' work that he can create such an emotionally resonating piece with so few and so disparate elements. A truly wonderful track that particularly stands out on this disc.

"Hivernal" pairs distorted drone work with field recordings of rain resulting in a truly fascinating example of locational ambience. The track creates a very real and true environment, but through the distortions of the drones, one can't help but feel a certain alienation from that landscape, a feeling of it being somehow isolated and separate from reality.

The disc closes with the track "Coda", which begins with a simple growing drone that eventually dissolves into a series of melodies and phrases that mix together and weave through eachother in a way that sums up the entire melodic element of the disc. It's a very nice summation of ideas, and a lovely way to close the disc, leaving the listener with a feeling of completion and satisfaction.

With the release of "Timbre", William Fields has captured the imagination, creating a fluid landscape where sounds and our perceptions of them are considered in new and exciting ways. Congratulations to Fields on a fine new disc and to Gears of Sand who continue to release some of the most interesting and intriguing work available.

rik - ping things

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last updated 07/01/07