Artist: William Spivey
Release Date: 2014 May 19
Genre: Ambient / Space Music
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Pricing: Name Your Price / Free
Label: We Are All Ghosts
I have tried being more selective with my selection of ambient recordings this year. I am trying to find recordings that bring something exceptional for you to listen to. There are a lot of ambient recordings to chose from, with many netlabels I have run into dedicated to just this form of music. Some labels, like We Are All Ghosts, are better than others, and I could make a career out of reviewing just the good, band and ugly of the ambient world. However, I would rather focus on releases like this one, and bring you just a glimpse of William Spivey.
Just A Glimpse of William Spivey
One of the things that I often find is problematic with ambient music is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. By removing all the constructs that we think of as standard in most genres of music, like rhythm, melody, and harmony you have what is best noted as a sequence of sounds that are related to each other. The piece might actually go somewhere, but you are unlikely to focus on the journey.
This is where William Spivey takes a different approach. Instead of treating ambient music as an all-encompassing style he integrates it with numerous styles of electronic music, but with an emphasis on Berlin School electronic music.
For instance, the title track ‘Glimpse’ is primarily a drone piece, however with lots of synthesizer sequences mixed on top of the drone. The effect adds a another dimension of auditory depth to the sound of the piece, and subtly enhances the overall direction and structure while still maintaining a timeless feeling.
On ‘Threading the Needle’ the track starts off with a low, subtle drone, but after building the mood and atmosphere for a few minutes keyboard sequences are brought to take the piece in another direction. And then finally, bass and percussion are added to bring a piece of that started as a subtle meditation into a more tension dynamic piece. It’s as if the frustrations of threading a needle just exploded.
Then there is a piece like ‘Pillow’ with definite overtones to the classic style of artists like Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. Minimal synthesizer drones and delicate sequenced weaving around like a dream, and invitation to rest your weary head and have a nice long sleep.
All of these sounds mixtures make for a lush inviting environment. They draw you in to listen and be envelope you. They prod you along gently and make you feel as if you are floating, but not completely aimless.
So, with just a glimpse of William Spivey, it’s easy to see that this is music that reaches in multiple directions and dimensions simultaneously by drawing on elements from many forms of electronic music. This isn’t the work of a single dimension artist, exploring the depths of a form. This is a the exact opposite: an artist who recognizes the strengths of many different styles of music and combines them in new and effective ways.
And, all I can say is: yes. This is what I feel there needs to be more of. It’s one thing to listen to a long drone piece (like something by Cousin Silas), but it’s another to have a set of pieces that the mind to be active and experience music from multiple perspectives.