Shelter Press 2024
CD with 16-page booklet, essay and color photos

released June 21, 2024

Shelter Press presents Translucents, its first collaboration with American artist and composer Byron Westbrook. Comprising a single, 41 minute work divided into a series of interconnected vignettes that explore sonority’s relationship to time and memory, Translucents represents arguably the most definitive statement to date by one of the most singular voices working in the contemporary landscape of electroacoustic music.

First emerging within New York’s rigorous context of experimental music over the course of the last decade and a half and now based in Los Angeles, Byron Westbrook has woven progressively intricate tapestries of sonority that bridge the worlds of sound art, installation, avant-garde electronic music, and synthesis. Working thoughtfully at an almost glacial pace – allowing the meaning and relationships within his sonic material to evolve and emerge over long durations before a piece reaches its final form – Westbrook’s practice is centred in the creation of hyper-specific sound environments that pursue a questioning or deconstruction of presumed or imposed understanding, subsequently appearing across a series of highly acclaimed full-lengths on imprints like Root Strata, Hands In The Dark, Umor Rex, and Ash International, as well as being staged at the Walker Art Center, ICA London, MOCA Los Angeles, MoMA PS1, MaerzMusik, Rewire and Akousma Festivals among numerous other venues.

Translucents was begun in 2016 at Elektronmusikstudion (EMS) in Stockholm, Sweden, on Buchla 200 and Serge modular synthesiser systems. Those initial recordings, in conjunction with a broad palette of field recordings, were then edited and composed into the resulting 41 minute piece over the course of the following seven years before being completed in 2023 at Black Hole immersive audio studio in Los Angeles.

Similar to Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel, The Magic Mountain, Translucents is rooted in the experiential phenomena of time; more specifically the cohabitation of multiple temporalities within a single piece. Partially drawing upon an encounter with the works of the artist Blinky Palermo, during which Westbrook observed the retinal ghost of one painting transpose itself over another – imposing itself outside of its own time and presumed perimeters of experience – like his environmental and context-based installation work, Translucents stages sound as a sculptural form, setting up theatrical situations, played out as a series of interconnected vignettes that are designed to provoke unique and wholly subjective experiences through the act of listening.

Incorporating complex harmonic relationships, durational tones, a heady cast of rhythmical elements, and the bristling textures of electronics and unprocessed environmental recording drawn from the natural and industrial world, Translucents is a gesture of structural virtuosity; knots of tense, sonic density unfurled before being released as trace phenomena into spacious, pastoral plains of near silence, microscopic detail, and floating ambiences. As each counterpoint of contrast indicates its own experience and representation of time – provoking an imagism that borders on synesthesia – Westbrook threads a striking balance between psychoacoustic phenomena and a reorientation of relational sound: what is perceived physically vs observationally.

Conceptually rich and deeply engaging on creative terms, while remarkably beautiful and captivating, Byron Westbrook’s Translucents is a singular statement of contemporary electroacoustic practice, issued by Shelter Press on CD, accompanied by a 16-page booklet comprising a suite of photographs and an essay by the composer.

Performed using Serge Modular, Buchla 200, Eurorack, Yamaha DX7, Cassette, Field Recordings, Computer

Recorded + Produced:
EMS Stockholm, September 2016
Banff Center for Arts, Canada, November 2018
Brooklyn and on location, 2014-2018
Los Angeles, 2018-2022

Stereo Audio Mixed in Los Angeles, March 2022 and Feb. 2023
Spatial Audio Mixed at Black Hole, Gardena, CA, Apr. 2022
Binaural Render by Micah Silver at Black Hole, Gardena, CA, Oct 2022

Mastered by Stephan Mathieu
Design by Bartolomé Sanson
35mm photographs by Byron Westbrook