Ash 13.8 – Byron Westbrook – Mirror Views

CD – 4 tracks – 71:41

Release date: 17th September 2021
Pre-orders

Track listing:

1. Reflection Noise
2. Mirror View (First Contact)
3. Mirror View (Second Contact)
4. Mirror View (Totality)

Ash International presents Mirror Views, a new long-form work from LA-based composer Byron Westbrook. While Westbrook’s field recording process has been central for many years to both his composition and installation works, there has yet to be a major release showcasing this aspect of his artistic practice. On Mirror Views, he seamlessly blends cassette field recordings with “faked” synthesizer binaural environments created from noise and unstable tones. The album’s four sections and 72 minutes unfold with patience, taking cues from Luc Ferrari and Maryanne Amacher to use the passage of time to create deeply immersive effects. Westbrook also incorporates animated phase relationships between speakers to simulate perspective shifts, blurring what is a documented event vs. electronic fabrication. This is a work of subtlety and sonic precision that is only possible to reproduce on CD and digital formats.

Liner notes:

Mirror Views is composed from audio elements of Threshold Variations, a multi-channel audio and light installation presented in 2017 while Westbrook was artist-in-residence with ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn. The audience visiting the installation was invited to navigate a dark room with mirrored walls while a sequence of coloured low lighting filled the space, gradually shifting hue and amplitude as the sound played at low volume, co-existing with exterior sound. The installation’s focus was dynamic play with perception of presence, both real and imagined.

The sounds heard here are a mix of cassette field recordings made on or around the 21 August 2017 solar eclipse, intermingling with synthesized environments created with the Buchla 200 Synthesizer at EMS Stockholm while Westbrook was in residence in late 2016. During his stay in Stockholm, Westbrook resided in a notoriously haunted boarding house where many claim to have seen a ghost in the mirrors of the top floor apartment. While he never witnessed the ghost, he was constantly looking. The recordings made from those sessions represent that anticipation: a straining to see presence revealed through haziness, not unlike the experience of gradual light changes experienced during the eclipse which inspired the installation.

Recorded by Byron Westbrook in 2016-2017 on location in Brooklyn, Long Island, Rhode Island and in Stockholm at Elektronmusikstudion EMS. Thank you to ISSUE Project Room and EMS for their support in the creation of this work.

All tracks composed by Byron Westbrook. Published by Coldtransmission Songs (ASCAP)/Touch Music/Fairwood Music UK Ltd. Mastered by Simon Scott at SPS Mastering. Designed by Philip Marshall, November 2020. Photography by Byron Westbrook.

Bio:

Byron Westbrook is an artist and composer based in Los Angeles, CA. He works with both music performance and installation formats, with a focus on architectural qualities of sound and the potential for audio to generate visual spaces. Westbrook holds an MFA from Bard College, where he studied with Marcus Schmickler, David Behrman and Marina Rosenfeld. He also worked closely with Phill Niblock to produce, record and archive concerts at Experimental Intermedia Foundation in NYC from 2005-2014. His work has been presented by international institutions such as the Walker Art Center, ICA London, Rewire Festival, MaerzMusik Festival and he has recently been visiting faculty with Pratt Institute MFA, Columbia University Sound Arts MFA, and International Center of Photography’s New Media Narratives program.

“Over the past few years, Byron Westbrook has been one of the most interesting and distinctive composers in any genre.” Marc Masters, Bandcamp Daily

“In the crowded field of drone-based ambient composers, Los Angeles’s Byron Westbrook stands as one of the most rigorous and interesting.” Dave Segal, The Stranger