Musicians have more tools than ever to make music. Take a look at a website like kvraudio. Hundred upon hundreds of effects, soft synth, orchestral sounds, vocals samples, Gregorian chants and whatever you can think of is available. Musicians now more than ever need to know how to set a limit to their arsenal. It’s a common practice of the pros. Limit the palette of sounds.
For Ethan Gamble he utilizes almost nothing more than a Microkorg and his vocals on his release Roy. The Microkorg can make an array of different sounds but Gamble keeps it rather minimal utilizing a couple of distinct tones and textures in a single song. HIs songs are all about the mid-range. There is some percussion on these songs but you don’t hear sub-harmonic bass drum or bass in general.
The songs are experimental ambient pop. I heard shades of a group like Animal Collective minus the kinetic energy and percussion. The vocal melodies are quite catchy and I thought Gamble had solid delivery.
Up first is “Go!” The first thing you hear are bell-like percussion which is challenged by a heavy lead sine wave. Vocals harmonies enter around a minute in and Gamble gets rid of the frequency heavy synth. Not a bad start but I would have liked to hear more vocals which aren't heard again after the two-minute mark.
An arpeggiated synth dances around his drone like vocals on “Decisions” while “Miami” has an ominous vibe that gets more warped as it progresses. Other songs like “Night Light” sounds like it could be a soundtrack to a Haunted House theme ride that was made by Ravers.
“Child” is the seven-plus-minute centerpiece which revolves around hazy, even disorienting sounding vocals. It's like an atmospheric pad and eventually gets a couple of blocks of synths and what sounds like a robot scraping metal parts from a wood floor. The other notable song is “Rhinoceros” which has a tempo shift and an array of different sounds.
Gamble has some talent but still needs to learn a few things before getting competitive with like-minded artists such as Fennesz, Tim Hecker or Mountains. I would have liked to hear more movement. Some of the songs feel a little too static and get drawn out too long.
Overall, Gamble is playing with a genre that I admire and appreciate. Some of his vocal harmonies are really well thought out as well as delivered. I also thought he did a good job creating a foundation. This a solid start for Gamble and I have a feeling if he keeps at it his best work is yet to come.
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