Kenneth James Gibson is the kind of artist one could write a book about. Just reading about his past is enough to have you venturing down various rabbit holes, for this is an artist who has blurred the lines of many styles and genres over the years.
Currently residing in Idyllwild, California, the Canadian born Gibson grew up in El Paso, Texas, and has since become something of a sonic chameleon.
Firstly, Gibson founded the ’90s noise-rock band, Furry Things, with a raft of collaborations that followed, including Bell Gardens alongside Stars Of The Lid‘s Brian McBride; Reverse Commuter with Douglas McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb); Hiss & Buzz with Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto); and Toler Gibson with Gavin Toler (The Winter Flowers).
There have been many more, too, not to mention Gibson’s music featuring on the likes of Shameless and The Simpsons. Creating is creating, and Gibson’s art has gone well beyond the realms of normality.
Following Gibson’s Kompakt release, 2018’s In the Fields of Nothing, the shape-shifting experimentalist returns with the follow-up and first for his new label, Meadows Heavy Recorders, in Groundskeeping: a record that somehow connects the dots in diaristic fashion.
Like a thick blanket of fog that masquerades the shoreline, opening piece, The Grounds, sets the tone for Groundskeeping. Its fragments of sound contaminating the next cut in Small Triumphs and Deep Disappointing. With glistening drones and rich ominous cello and violin provided by Less Bells’ Julie Carpenter, Small Triumphs and Deep Disappointing is cinematic majesty that amalgamates the ideas of Gibson’s past.
While A Snowy Year in the Meadows Heavy is like a hymn produced from the belly of a canyon, it leads into the sea of strings that swell like an ungodly thunderstorm on In Time You Will. Here we find Gibson producing his own form of sweeping orchestral drama.
And with the next instalment of Dune on its way, the creators could do a lot worse than including the likes of The Groundskeeper and An Untroubled Moment on Magnus Bridge in the film score. Here, you can almost taste the gritty textures of sand from the landscapes of Iraqis.
With closing composition, Pacific Mountain Express, Gibson recreates the drama of In Time You Will, creating the kind of world that you don’t wish to leave.
On Groundskeeping, Gibson’s ideas creep into the realms of deep-listening as much as his previous default positions of ambient and electronica. Abstract in nature, Gibson’s compositions are methodical and produced with utmost care. With the time he has taken to cultivate this record, as a listener, the very least one can do is afford that same time and care.
By spending time with Groundskeeping, the only outcome is to be immersed in this gorgeous vista of sound.
Groundskeeping is out tomorrow via Meadows Heavy Recorders. Purchase from Bandcamp.