Okay, so I’m a bit late on Gabrielle Herbst, but her debut album “Sympathy” is simply stunning and it’s quickly become one of my favorites. The Brooklyn-based composer /singer/ multi-instrumentalists began her musical training at an early age, studying Balinese dance and gamelan in Indonesia while learning both the clarinet and piano. Herbst continued her training at Bard College where she studied voice and composition under the tutelage of Joan Tower, Zeena Parkins, and Marina Rosenfeld. Her work has already been showcased at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, as well as Roulette, who in 2014 commissioned and premiered her first opera, Bodiless.
Herbst’s experience writing for chamber orchestra and mixed instrumentation inspired her to develop a repertoire of short-form, vocal-centric compositions under the name GABI. These were driven by solitary explorations in 2013 with a dual-track loop pedal. The nine songs composed embrace the vast potential of the human voice as instrument, story, and landscape.
From the start “Koo Koo” sets the tone. As my favorite track on the album, Gabrielle delivers with chilling ambition. As the album progresses, we find that she doesn’t stray from her original formula but actually adds to it. One could easily get lost in an album full of expansive soundscapes. Yet, all the songs are so different from each other they grab your complete attention.
Possessing one of the best and most memorable voices we’ve heard in a long time, GABI brilliantly embraces classical, electronics and percussion, this is a truly brilliant debut album bursting with originality.
Sympathy was recorded in the studio where she was joined by her band Matthew O’Koren (percussion), Rick Quantz (viola), Josh Henderson (violin), and Aaron Roche (electric guitar/trombone). With production by Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Paul Corley, these open-ended sessions yielded a suite of compositions that capture Gabrielle’s metamorphosis into GABI via an intimate exploration along the edges of song-form.
Check it out, it’s lovely!
1: Koo Koo
2: Da Void
3: Love Song