Leaving the world in its wake
John Gibson
John Gibson
Kati Gleiser
Craig Hultgren
Brett Shuster
Michael Tunnell
Catalog Number: 

Bloomington, IN

Release Date: 
Oct 28, 2016
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
John Gibson: TracesiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
3.Day Trip08:51$0.99
4.Out of Hand11:35
6.Red Plumes11:12
7.Blue Traces13:15
One Sheet: 

The world gets inside of John Gibson’s electronic compositions, one way or another. Whether it’s the scrape of a kitchen knife or the cacaphony of a street scene, he brings everyday sounds into his musical orbit. Gibson grew up in Atlanta playing guitar in rock and jazz bands, but eventually was drawn to contemporary classical music. Having moved from purely instrumental work to electroacoustic music, he retains an obsession with harmonic color and rhythmic pulsation, while broadening his palette with transformed instrumental sound. On Traces, the pieces range from minimal to maximal, combining live instruments with pre-recorded soundtracks and improvised responses from the computer.

“Thrum” and “Slumber” take notes played on familiar acoustic instruments and assemble them into hypnotic grooves and atmospheric textures. “Day Trip” draws on heavily processed soundscape recordings from New York’s Chinatown, and “Driptick” orchestrates the clash of incompatible speeds projected by the sounds of dripping faucets and ticking clocks.

For the rest of the album, pianist Kati Gleiser, cellist Craig Hultgren, and brass duo Brett Shuster and Michael Tunnell join Gibson in studio recordings of pieces they commissioned. These pieces employ Gibson’s custom software, which allows the computer to manipulate sound produced on the instruments, as well as make decisions about when and how to play music in response.

In “Out of Hand,” the computer listens to Shuster and Tunnell, shaping the electronic accompaniment it produces on the spot. The musicians lead us across several contrasting landscapes to a final passage featuring the duo expanded into the sound of a full horn section, set against an algorithmically generated funk bass line. “Red Plumes” is a sonic metaphor for the giant tube worms that grow in the path of hydrothermal vents deep in the Pacific Ocean. Craig Hultren’s cello provides source material for the electronic part that accompanies his soaring melodic lines. “Blue Traces” is a meditation inspired by the bioluminescence of sea creatures. The computer makes brief recordings of the piano during the performance and fashions them into a gentle backdrop for the artistry of Kati Gleiser.

Gibson’s compositions have received performances by the London Sinfonietta, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Seattle Symphony, Speculum Musicae, and at numerous festivals, including Bourges Synthèse, Seoul International Computer Music, Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music, as well as many SEAMUS and ICMC conferences. He teaches composition for electronic media at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.




“The album has seven compositions by John Gibson. Guitarist rock and jazz, the American composer was then dedicated to contemporary music, looking, as demonstrated exemplarily this work, to create music through the combination of heterogeneous resources: laptops and acoustic instruments, soundscapes and famous piano pieces, pulses and beats sound velocities inconsistent (as in Driptick whose basic idea is the mix between start ticking of a clock and the drippings of a sink), and so on: each song tells a story through an adventurous journey in sound and its possibilities. In Slumbers electronic processing of sounds and noises echoed by Kind in Einschlummern , one of Kinderszene of Schumann finally gives way, after several steps and developments, to direct quote from that song. In Day Trip , the exotic-New York's lively Chinatown (bubbling in the tingle of the registered items in its streets) resonates in Mahjong which opens a resounding episode full of dreamlike suggestions and music will find (as the turn of the final loop in rhythmic percussion ). In Out of Hand , the clearance between trumpet and trombone on one side and layers of sounds generated by the computer on the other - both in a predetermined manner, both in response to the improvised performance of the wind - it generates interesting and unexpected situations, such as the final funk led forward from the bottom line by brass counterpoint. The piercing sound of the cello melts or collides or engages with an electronic part in Red Plumes , who paints in a marine atmospheric sounds suggestion, indeed ocean, giving almost epic moments. And not least are the first and the last track: Thrum , which begins with notes derived from the nylon strings and metal of the acoustic guitar and never evolves abandoning a particular voltage and percussive rumoristica, and Blue Traces , whose strength is the wonder that is generated by the harmony between the piano by Kati Gleiser and traces of sound response from the computer offers: in short, all the compositions, made between 1998 and 2011, require and together come to the attention of the listener, immersing it in an exciting exploration of musical worlds.” - Alessandro Bertinetto



“a fine collection of seven electroacoustic works, covering a fascinating spectrum of sounds that make a coherency--a very intelligent and moving program...The musicality and fresh musical thinking of Gibson predominates in any case, no matter what the work's premises and sound design.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Grego Edwards