Review: Byron Westbrook – Precipice

Byron Westbrook - PrecipicePrecipice isn’t immaculate. I listen closely and I can hear where the stitching has come loose; electronic textures fraying into lower fidelities or oozing interference where holes in the fabric have started to emerge. Westbrook tilts the tones of “Infinite Sustain” back and forth so that different sides catch the light, gleaming into feedback as the chords hang in the air, lingering in a restful harmonic asymmetry. Yet somewhere in the background I hear a hiss that Westbrook has left in; a reverse-ghost, emblematic of the world of physical wires and convulsive electricity that powers the cocoon of the immaterial.

The record is littered with intricacies such as this. Even amidst the dazzle of reflections and glimmers on “Prismatic” – which so deftly evokes its title in those harsh angles and labyrinthine orchestration of light – there is a coarseness that decorates the surfaces like a fine layer of sand. Zoom closer, and I notice the tiny emulations of body that throw skin pinks and warm temperatures amidst the architecture: the protagonist of “Spectral Ascension” is an electronic arpeggio that hyperventilates as it runs the length of a major chord, thrust into lonely anxiety by the gaping horizon of drone that opens up behind it, while “Fractal Shift” comes wrapped in the saliva clacks of a tongue against the roof of a mouth. Precipice doesn’t exist solely in my head. It tingles at the edge of my fingertips and floods my body like cold water on an empty stomach – daydreams and corporeal experience poured into geometric abstraction.