Sonic explorations of isolation, distances, and landscapes.
The fourth Lammergeyer release.
Borders & Barrens follows the same general style as previous Lammergeyer releases, delving even deeper into sonic explorations of isolation, distance, and the mood of landscapes. The scene is coastlines, misty headlands, desolate marshes, barren moors and their mysterious solitude. The music is richly atmospheric, studded with inventive detail and drawn-out, almost subconscious melodies. It is a music with underlying emotion, and is a journey not to be missed. (Press Release)
"Anthony Paul Kerby, the man behind Lammergeyer and The Circular Ruins, is, I think, one of the most interesting and consistent musicians working in the area of contemporary ambient music today...."
--Reviewed by Warren Punshon - Synth Music Direct
"In the liner notes of the excellent album, there is the following notation: “The music of Lammergeyer is inspired by landscapes: bleak coastlines, misty headlands, salt marshes, moors, and their mysterious solitude.” It’s seldom that an artist describes his/her own music so accurately (come to think of it, that’s what us reviewers are supposed to do!). Lammergeyer is one of the artistic aliases for Anthony Paul Kerby, who, on this recording uses hardware and software synths, effects, and an “occasional treated guitar.” Wielding these various instruments and electronics, Kerby fashions twelve ambient soundscapes, all conveying the same “feel” while also being distinct and separate as whole entities unto themselves. Eschewing the “traditional” ambient convention (in the floating darker-tinted ambient subgenre) of working in the long form, the twelve pieces on Borders & Barrens are all short-form (with one exception), varying from a miniscule 1:35 to 6:12, and even the one exception clocks in at only eight minutes in length. That Kerby has crafted such a superb “pure” ambient recording while adhering to this non-standard model is a tribute to his skills as an artist as well offering the listener a glimpse into his imaginative vision of what constitutes ambient music.
Describing the music on this CD in any detail would take more space than the average reader would care to plow through. Yet, I also am loathe to single out just a few tracks, since all of them offer something to entice, intrigue, and delight the fan of non-rhythmic ambient music (although rhythms do come into play at times, albeit in an unusual sense). There is little doubt that the prevailing atmosphere of the album is as Kerby describes it, being concerned with murky, shadowy forlorn and isolating soundscapes which hover above the listener like a shroud of fog. However, there is also warmth and an inviting sense of comfort on some selections. Seldom does the music stray over the boundary of what I would describe as genuinely “scary” or overtly dark (of course, these are all relative descriptors, as what is “dark” to one person is a walk in the park to others).
Kerby frequently laces the more drone-like/textural aspects of a composition with melodic elements, in such a way so that not only does it keep the music from sounding like so many other drone-fests, but it also injects the aforementioned warmth and a palpable sensation of humanity into the mix. That this warmth and humanity is frequently tinted with melancholy or a sensation of being somewhat lost and adrift in the more introspective emotions does not detract from the connection to there being a “man behind the curtain,” so to speak.
Some pieces are concerned with casting a backward glance at retro EM, such as the assorted analog keyboards which grace the closing track, “Gyroscope,” with its myriad sequenced notes, wailing keyboards, and ping-ponging sense of reverberation. “We All Fall Down” blends a more contemporary drifting amorphous ambient approach with Vangelis-like keyboards later in the track, imparting a sense of gravitas and emotional weight, yet without any of the morose melodrama which can plague Vangelis’ music. The opening “Where the Sea Ends” opens with a static wash/drone but soon evolves, via muted synth strings, into a mixture of serene floating ambience and haunting darker shadings. Kerby seemingly interweaves a dozen different elements to yield this cohesive “whole” fashioning it from items such as the sound of whooshing wind, elegiac synths, and quirky electronic effects. Even a song with the ominous title “In Praise of Darkness,” while certainly not “sunny,” contains enough strains of beauty (in the same way that Tim Story does the same) to balance the oppressiveness with glimmers of hope. While some songs balance on the edge of quasi-experimental territory (e.g. “Rainflower” which abounds with clicks, sampled spoken word dialogue, and bird-like chirping synths or the starker environmentally-influenced “Rainflower” with its blend of spacy blooping noises and reverberating textures with drones and wavery tones), Kerby never descends so far down this path as to alienate any but the most unadventurous fans of the genre.
What elevates Borders & Barrens above the pack more than anything else is the artist’s near fanatical attention to detail which is thoroughly revealed when listening through headphones. That he crams so much “stuff” in the sound-field yet does so with such precise control that the assorted effects, layers of synths, and other melodic and drone-related sounds never resemble anything less than a single musical statement (instead of a mishmash of a collage) is a testament to his abilities and his vision. Nearly always accessible (unless your idea of ambient music never gets beyond Jonn Serrie), Lammergeyer/Kerby’s Borders & Barrens is an entertaining and compelling tour through musical interpretations of the assorted landscapes which the artist himself listed above. As such, it’s a perfect soundtrack to lonely storm-tossed nights or somber grey afternoons, when the path to such destinations holds no menace, leading instead to a sense of communion with our inner selves as well as connecting to the less “traditional” beauty of our diverse natural world."
--Bill Binkelman - Producer and Host, Wind and Wire
"On Borders and Barrens (56'17"), Lammergeyer is working without much in the way of rhythm. This work often contains a pulse, but no apparent beat to carry it along. Instead, the pieces are advanced by a uniquely designed torrent of sound. Each brief and well-conceived track is captivating as multiple layers of sound, moving at different rates, rush into the listening space. The layers ebb and flow and new tones eventually overlap and replace the core. A great sense of space is achieved when the strong harmonic currents dwindle down to a trickle. Although the impressionistic Ambient works on Borders and Barrens offer little in the way of overt audible cues to determine their inspiration or meaning, the listener is left with a distinctive sense of the natural world. Far from being categorized as an "environmental" album, this work somehow manages to conjure up a sense of the majestic macrocosm of the wilderness regions of our planet. Maybe it's the traces of pastoral melodies or the pumping pressure of the shifting atmosphere that places the listener at the center of the verdant sonic sphere. Gloomier tracks possess an ominous undercurrent as they visit a less friendly outland of conflicting overtones and darkening climate. It is this fluctuating range of experiences that engages the nocturnal wilds of the submerged mind."
--Chuck van Zyl (STAR'S END) - September 2005