a closer listen

Byron Westbrook ~ Body Consonance

Hands in the Dark calls Byron Westbrook‘s new album “far from ambient”, and we agree; this active music, its notes like agitated atoms.  Leah Beeferman’s cover art is a perfect representation: both form and flow, seemingly random yet carefully planned, smudged yet intact.  The same is true of Westbrook’s music, which investigates patterns before wandering in other directions.

The title implies an acceptance of one’s body, despite variances and perceived flaws.  When the drones first descend on the music, one perceives them as intruders, but on subsequent listens they become friends.  They are incorporated into the larger body to the extent that their dominance of the finale is not only welcome, but cherished.  Without them, the album might seem too polite, awash in patterns that occasionally resemble generative music but more often seem punctiliously programmed.  The album also contains a sonic illusion, suggesting drums where none are present.  Synthesized tempos keep the beat, giving the percussion little to do as it slinks away, rejected and ashamed.

While Body Consonance is not a club album, it is designed to be a dance album, its curves inviting choreography.  Three titles refer to dance in different forms, while the repetitions, reminiscent of the sea, are joined by a digital ocean mid-set.  One remembers the crazy, beautiful student dancing to her own beat, seemingly defying the DJ, and wonders if the script could ever be flipped: a club in which typical dancing is frowned upon, practitioners indicted by whispers behind cupped hands.  This is Westbrook’s alternate vision.  We hope no techno remixes follow, as the album’s strength is its outlier nature.  When that final drone descends, it acts as a storm front, breaking the humidity, clearing the way for consonance.  Dust particles linger in complementary shades of gray.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  13 October

Available here