Boomkat Product Review:
DC's Heather Stebbins refines precise modular improvisations and spooked vocal snippets on this latest offering from the always interesting Superpang imprint.
Composer and electronic music professor Stebbins is a mainstay of Washington DC's experimental scene, performing regularly across the city and releasing on the Zeromoon label. Her last album was May's "New Forms, Old Selves", where she used samples of older compositions to feed into her modular setup and prompt semi-improvisational discoveries. "At the end of the sky" picks up where that record left off, using what sounds like choral music as the basis for a sequence of ghostly, reverberating experiments. After a brief and jubilant opening track, the generous 'Särama' provides focus, building almost operatic echoes over droning low-end oscillations. The piece highlights Stebbins' advanced synthesis techniques; her process is subtle but deeply nuanced, from the small shifts she allows herself to make in the electronic tones to restrained use of the vocals, which in the wrong hands could sound overblown.
The brief 'Begin' is deceptively simple - Stebbins takes a single vocal sample and stutters it into irregularity, creating space and rhythm from discernibly choral hums. But she builds the technique into orchestral grandeur on the lengthier 'You are almost', using delay to create vortexes of sound that spiral into the ether like Akira Rabelais during a k-hole.