Martin Ayres‘ Cellosphere is unlike any other cello music we’ve heard. Ayres creates electro-acoustic music, using ‘distortion, feedback, surges and mixes’ to create sonic environments from his cello and violin playing. Ayres music is modern electro-acoustic music that explores ambient soundscapes.
The tracks on Cellosphere are serene dronescapes, falling somewhere between the tape-loop canons of Fripp and Eno and the abstract soundscapes of electronic artists like Steve Roach. The effect of the pieces on Cellosphere is that of evolving, pulsing soundscapes. Ayres’s processing blurs the source of the instrument, taking one cello and making it sound like an orchestra, or turning a bow scrape or a harmonic into a primary sound element.
Sounds recur throughout the pieces, not unlike the tape-loop guitar of Fripp and Eno’s 70’s early ambient pieces. Here, the layered sounds create an otherworldy, abstracted orchestral texture.
There are four pieces on Cellosphere. The first track has a languid canonic feel to it, with sounds recurring and layering to create a complex soundscape. The Cellosphere title seems apt, because it is almost as if Ayres is creating an entire soundworld from the cello.
Harmonic is a short piece, but one of the most interesting on the CD. Listening to it, it would be difficult to identify any obvious cello or violin. The most prominent sounds are low drones and a pulsing noise. Listeners familiar with Steve Roach’s recent work may hear similarities in the way Ayres explores sounds at a micro-level. It’s almost as if this whole piece is developed out of one sound, at times emphasizing various harmonics, at other times exploring noise within the sound, and at other times the fundamental.
Jeannie is a lovely drone piece. Ayres manages to evoke an orchestral palette from his cello, violin and effects. Overlapping string lines create a shifting string backdrop, and Ayres uses harmonics to create an effect that’s almost choral. David Hyke’s Harmonic Choir came to mind while listening to this. By mixing the layers of sound as the piece evolves, Ayres gives the music form and creates a wide range of textures from a limited set of source materials.
The final track Sensory, again brings to mind the early ambient tape canons of Fripp and Eno. On Sensory, Ayres creates a rich orchestral texture out of overlapping Cello and violin lines. The string sounds are presented relatively unaffected, bringing the lyrical quality of the cello to the foreground. Sensory is listed as a bonus track on the CD, but its combination of drone effects, orchestral string textures, and lyrical string lines suggests an entire world of possibilities for electro-acoustic music.
Ayres Cellosphere is highly recommended for fans of electro-acoustic and ambient music. The music is highly creative and crosses-over between the worlds of classical music, electro-acoustic and ambient sounds.