Featured image: Gramophone Transmissions original artwork
Broken Harbour is an ambient project from Edmonton’s Blake Gibson, with two self-released albums to date available through various digital outlets. The more recent, Gramophone Transmissions, is composed largely from samples after a growing dissatisfaction with synthesizers. His source material included classical music from worn-out vinyl, CDs and cassettes, as well as some recordings of his own on voice, piano, and, mellotron. Overlaid with a vinyl patina, Gramophone Transmissions mines the surreal territories somewhere between Leyland Kirby and William Basinski, evoking musical memory through harmonies sustained and overlapped, and melodies whose contours have been worn smooth from forgetfulness and decay.
The first half of the album sets the stage with long, slow pulses, The opening track “Drift” features a short, delicate, and elegant piano run, which gave it a sparkle, a twinkle of light. But the piano becomes a glimmer, hovering in distant chords as the album progresses inevitably to a darker, more nocturnal climate, an increasingly featureless audio plain constructed from low strings and cavernous reverberation. A last lingering appearance comes as a channel bell in “Titan”, a repeated warning sounding through the fog, fraught with mythological overtones.
The album’s second half, its three longest tracks, start with “Dark Clouds Approaching From The West,” full of murk and distant rumbles, seeking the tension in the faraway twilight storms without ever finding a release. “Maelstrom”‘s discordant voices will probably awaken anyone unwise enough to fall asleep to the previous lulling tracks. Its fleeting and wavering high strings introduce a slowly evolving series of shifting textures full of foreboding. The closer, “Unforeseen Consequences,” hangs on a single sonority forever before returning to the quietly evolving moods of the earlier tracks.