Marbyllia Release “Uncountable Spheres”

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The new album from Marbyllia, titled Uncountable Spheres, has a lot of different elements to offer listeners this February, specifically in regards to its relative absence of cosmetic notations becoming all too common in experimental music nowadays. Uncountable Spheres contains seven interestingly surreal songs that toe the line of modern experimentalism without devolving into the meandering tones of contemporary avant-gardism. Its opening track, “Gravitational March,” isn’t sporting a plunging bassline, nor any of the plasticized experimental faceting that would forerun a more conventional instrumental release in 2024.

There isn’t any fat on the strut of the cello in “Thermospheric Drift,” and you won’t hear any hollow percussive cliff diving in the searching “Unexplored Worlds.” When he sat down to hammer out the details of this new LP, songwriter Bill Gilliam was careful to make sure that his audience would be getting nothing other than purified content, free of the nonsensical discourse that has become all too common a feature in new ambient records. Combined with the bold accents from Margaret Maria, his hard work was well worth the effort, as what we subsequently receive in this all-new disc is something that both serious enthusiasts and the generally curious music fan can find some solace in.

There’s an underlying groove in “Our Sacred Troposphere” that is startlingly accessible and friendly, especially when coming off the devastatingly threatening “Mesopheric Lights” in the tracklist. The equalization favors the bottom end of the spectrum here, as well as in “Stratosphere in Distress,” but there are no examples of muddiness in the mix that I could point to as shortcomings in the stylization here.

The music is overwhelmingly muscular in “Thermospheric Drift” and the gentle giant “Exiting Exosphere,” but I don’t think it’s so powerful that it would ruin a midgrade set of speakers at all. This is about as smooth an experimental LP as we could have asked for from Marbyllia, and it makes me very interested in the notion of their collaborating with other artists both in and outside of the Toronto scene shortly. Some extended jam sessions based on this template would be an excellent follow-up to this record, and adding another contributor would likely maximize the energy of the compositions exponentially.

This has been an awesome season for indie players regardless of genre, but I don’t think you’re going to hear anything like Uncountable Spheres no matter how far and wide you scan the underground section of your local record store this month. 2024 is in full swing, and as we inch closer to spring, it’s becoming more than obvious who the biggest and best musicians of the independent market are. Marbyllia isn’t done maturing as a duo, but for the time being, I think they should be marked as one of the more important acts to watch in terms of development and growth. They’ve done a lot to prove their artistic credibility here, and with the time and appropriate venues to find the heart and soul of this medium, I believe they could eventually do just about anything they set their minds to.

Trace Whittaker