Beyond Willie's Place

CD digipak, limited to 600 copies
tourette 020


Having released At Willie’s Place only a few months prior, one could easily mistake the second release from Gnome & Spybey to be a quintessential remix companion as the title Beyond Willie’s Place would seem to suggest. However, Tony D’Oporto and Mark Spybey have taken a more literal approach to the title as this album takes the foundations of the previous album and takes them even further, solidifying their collaboration into something more than simply the sum of their individual parts… at least, that seems to be the idea. Equal parts Spybey’s mangling of sound and samples and D’Oporto’s synthesized atmospheres, Beyond Willie’s Place is everything the first album was, but the question is if it is more than that; is it really “beyond?”

“Aether Or” begins the proceedings rather simply with somber waves of ambience and celestial synths that set the stage for the rest of the album. “Kosmos” follows with a rhythmic throbbing that rings in the eardrums like distant sirens, waves of atonal pads shifting in and out of the mix to create a rather dreamlike effect. The middle of the album takes a rather quiet turn as “Phosphor,” “Za Naivne,” and “Death Wore Nothing but a Smile” move by rather like echoed whispers of electrified ambience, hovering just beneath the range of the listener’s perception – audible but almost unnoticeable, making for an effect that can be soothing for some, but perhaps infuriating for others who would strain to hear the subtle nuances to be found in the mix of each track. Later tracks take a more energetic approach as “Meet at the World Clock” bounces by with an entrancing synth refrain that hints of a more danceable track that never occurs, while “Of Other Days” is a delightfully wistful tapestry of spacey pads and a repeating melodic refrain. The same can be said of “Letting Go Thoughts” and “Rotes,” with the former track having a tonal quality akin to a nylon stringed guitar and the latter having a chiming rhythm like a windup music box and an off-key piano phrase, both songs possessing an almost Oriental tonality. The centerpiece of the album is “The Quiet Man,” beginning with several minutes of hollow pads underscoring a philosophical dialog that evokes in this writer’s mind Timothy Leary, before breaking into a mélange of audio dissonance containing layers of fractured pads, tribal percussion that gradually appears and disappears throughout, before fading out into contemplative quiet.

The verdict: Beyond Willie’s Place is only slightly beyond as the foundations set by the first album are still firmly in place, with only a few tracks daring to take things in another direction. Not that one can blame D’Oporto or Spybey. It has only been a few months between the two records, and it’s entirely possible that some of the material was written around the same time period. Be that as it may, Gnome & Spybey does well at least to continue the path forged by At Willie’s Place, further defining their collaborative sound to standout from their various individual projects.

Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)