William Michael Gilbert has a recording career that stretches back almost four decades. With a background in engineering and music, it comes as no surprise that the engineer/synth and sample player has been instrumental in the development of recording studios and served as the Adviser for Technological Services and Initiatives at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Musically Gilbert’s work in the past melded aspects of world and electronic music. His first album was released in 1978. “Moving Pictures” sought to “humanize” electronic music with woodwind and other elements added in. In 1987, Gilbert became one of the first independent artists to embrace the then-new technology of compact discs.
Gilbert’s latest release, “Radio Omnibus,” is an example of cutting-edge electronic music. One example of Gilbert’s eclectic style is the track “Ice Spring Breath.”
“Ice Spring Breath ” by William Michael Gilbert
The song begins with what sounds like a breath tunneling through a giant tube, or similarly large woodwind instrument. Gilbert creates most of the sounds on the track. His work is augmented by that of a keyboard player.
For those expecting typical sounds and time signatures, this track will disappoint. There might be some adherence to traditional elements, but those aren’t noticeable. What is apparent is a soundscape that is made up of replicated nature sounds.
The best adjective for the sounds used to create “Ice Spring Breath” is delicate. Listeners’ senses are overwhelmed by the attention to detail. Unlike popular music for jazz that often lends itself to dancing or movement of some kind, Gilbert’s work inspires stillness. Audiences might be surprised to find themselves completely rapt, while trying to identify the myriad sounds that comprise the piece.
“Ice Spring Breath” sounds like what a natural setting might when winter becomes spring. The delicate cracking of ice that covers ponds, twigs and logs. Overhead, the insistent and excited call of birds. What could be rushing winds calms audiences and encourages them to listen.
At just over seven minutes, “Ice Spring Breath” is a brief escape from a world that often moves too fast and is filled with sounds that jar instead of calm. “Radio Omnibus” Is available from GIBEX records.