AMN Reviews: Mattie Barbier – Three Spaces (2021; Bandcamp)

Mattie Barbier’s Three Spaces is an unconventional grouping of sounds in an unconventional genre. It consists of a single 38-minute track that offers up rough rumbling textures, long-held drones, and a bit of static around the edges. Though Barbier states that it was “made at home with euphonium, trombone, reed organ, and a garden,” Three Spaces goes beyond the typical solo pandemic release.

The instrumentation almost does not matter and would have been hard to pull apart without the liner notes. At first, the album seems to be one long monolithic drone. But upon several more listens, variations and depths emerge. Clear notes are submerged under the roiling foreground, and said foreground changes in nature at a glacial pace. Across these multiple listens I kept ticking up the volume to a surprisingly high level in order to appreciate the details. Given the album’s narrow dynamic range, this worked not unlike polishing a piece of old furniture to discover its subtle craftsmanship.

If you want to spend an afternoon digging into a single release, Three Spaces is a worthwhile candidate. Very nicely done.

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