Electronically generated music has a number of architects that include but are not limited to the works of Andre Previn, Philip Glass, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Multi-instrumentalist, arranger and composer Michael William Gilbert is both a student of electronic music and an architect of the music form. His latest CD, Radio Omnibus, celebrates the ingenuity and diversity inherent in electronically generated soundscapes. Here, it is not the melody that is being designed but the relationship which notes have when shuffled and mixed together in an almost arbitrary and random fashion.
Many of the electronic sounds heard on the album were made using uBraids, a Eurorack voltage-controlled digital oscillator/sound source that was developed by Michael W. Gilbert and his son Daniel for Tall Dog Electronics. The result is a synthesis of machine-manufactured movements and human intelligence working together. Purely jazz improvisation and experimental, the tracks react like organisms in a continual state of flux. Compositions are a complex lattice of sounds, forming sonic clusters and projectiles meticulously threaded and entangled.
Digital patterns are trellised by classical chamber style woodwinds in “Night Walk” and swathed in folk-inspired masonry through “Canon of Flowers.” The acoustic guitar strings waddle in a meditative-like trance reminiscent of bluegrass-country atmospherics. It’s one of the few tracks that is designed for the audience’s pleasure, whereas other numbers have a strict experimental orientation, like “Onomatopia.”
Collaborating with Adam Holzman on keyboards and Mark Walker on drums, Gilbert makes experimenting with soundwaves and configuring original sonic motifs exciting. Many of the songs may not be designed for public consumption, but they all show a spontaneity that is laudable and intellectually stimulating.
A graduate of MIT in electrical engineering and from the Boston School of Electronic Music, Gilbert’s foray into music began in the 1970s as an instructor and later as a recording artist. A proponent of collaborations, Gilbert shows on this album that music is a shared effort. And on Radio Omnibus, music and science come together to craft a futuristic, otherworldly, sci-fi sound that has to be heard.