Billy Gomberg: Comme

Billy Gomberg + offthesky: Flyover Sound

Notes posted at and/OAR in reference to Billy Gomberg's Comme advise the listener to “first approach this music from a pure listening standpoint, free from preconceived notions of musical structure and form since it can defy such prosaic logic.” That's pretty sound advice for both of these reverie-inducing, highly textural releases, the first a solo collection from Gomberg, the Brooklyn-based producer who first came to our attention via The Land Of's Days, and the second a collaborative outing with offthesky (Denver, Colorado resident Jason Corder) for Experimedia.

Comme, a generous portion of which was begun after Gomberg moved to Brooklyn in 2005, unspools in perpetual motion, its eight real-time improvisations mini-whirlpools of software-generated textures, Roland Juno synthesizer sounds, and voice elements. Like magnified films of micro-organism activity, the tracks spring to life with all manner of glitch-laden clicks, rattles, and whirrs. Spontaneity rules, as Gomberg lets the raw material develop naturally and with immediacy, the deferential creator content to let a given track travel where it may. The incessant chatter of crackle and hum punctuates glimmering nuclei of electric piano-like burble in percolating pieces of largely beatless design. “Channel” proves especially ear-catching, to some degree because Gomberg adds the rhythmic presence of a kick drum's elastic thump to the track's insectoid chatter, as does the aggressive “Solo” on account of a smeary, fuzz-toned attack that's strongly reminiscent of Oval. Odder still, “Letter” harks back even further in sounding at times like the kind of experiment Miles Davis might have recorded when his interest in Stockhausen was in full bloom.

Flyover Sound finds Gomberg and offthesky pooling their talents for nine soothing meditations. Here and elsewhere, Gomberg incorporates into his work analog synthesis, digital treatments, acoustic recordings, and custom programming, while Corder uses guitar, piano, sine waves, and field recordings to produce his material. Working together, the two create forty-nine minutes of shimmering drones and dense fields of electronic crystals. In some tracks the guitar occupies a prominent role; in others, it blends into the total sound mass. “Splatter Pattern” presents a sparkling rainforest of glitchy textures, while “Saen” resembles an amplified country pond teeming with the mating clicks of frogs and the chatter of insect life. In fact, much of the material might be characterized in similar manner, with each setting a slightly different albeit still luminous pond of placid electronic ambiance and guitar (acoustic and electric) shadings.

December 2009