Following the strong reception for his debut release, Source of the Hardware, which featured the artist in live performances, William Gregg hunkered down in his studio to put together his sophomore effort, Epiphenomenon. When I reviewed Source, I commented that I looked forward to hearing what Gregg could do with a deeper focus. That bit of musing is fully answered here, and the answer is that he turns out a rich, beautiful set of electro-acoustic pieces perfect for long-term looping. Overall, the tone is soft and very spacey, into which Gregg inserts his earthbound instrumentation. “Luminarian 5” puts a halting piano melody against rise-and-fall washes, then spatters the backdrop with echoing found sounds to create a mildly unsettling atmosphere. “Epicycle” is another piano-accented piece, but without the gritter treatments. It’s like a gentle adagio in space. “Planete Rouge” and “Dream’s World” bring crisp, ringing guitar notes into the mix. The first is dreamy and light, the fingerpicked acoustic melody playing patiently and pausing to let spirals of electronic sound pass. The other pushes forward on a springy sequencer line and a folk-music feel from the guitar. Harmonics add a nice touch. On the closing track, “Ur-Th,” the guitar embraces a dark and serious tone, but it’s still warm and…well…earthy. The bass strings resonate throughout, giving off a slightly sad tone as they step downward. The pads here are big, swirling things, a little hypnotic and quite calming. Gregg hits a straightforward spacemusic sound in spots as well, with the classic bounce-and-flow of “Negative Entropy” moving into the deep pads of “Starlight.” This straightforward space piece has a rich low end that counters a glittering higher side. The way these two tracks seamless move one to the next is a sensibility that plays across a lot of Epiphenomenon; there’s a great sense of flow here in the way Gregg strings together tonally similar tracks. “Praeludium II” and “Flight” are another good example, sharing the texture of plucked strings, allowing the pieces to glide together based on that commonality. With that in play, the release proceeds without a bump to jar the flow.
And here’s the kicker: Gregg composed all twelve pieces over a three-week period and recorded in a single four-hour session. Have a listen to Epiphenomenon and you may not believe that to be true. But don’t worry–on the repeat listens that are likely to follow, you’ll come to accept it. This is even more than what I was expecting from William Gregg.
Available at CD Baby.