Gabriel Walsh approaches music as if it were a kaleidoscopic expanse of possibilities and varying emotional depths. More than just notes and progressions to him, music is a malleable, amorphous substance, an investigational vehicle for both abstract and concrete ideas. And he’s held to this ideology for the last 25 years. During this time, he’s played in bands such as Timesbold, The Solillians and Wood Wand & the Vanishing Voice, creating a history of experimental pop and rock recordings which hint at the swirling musical chaos inhabiting his subconscious.
Recently, he’s been working under the handle of The Earthly Frames, sharpening his skewed rhythmic instincts in service to whatever impulses race through his brain. From his initial offering under the moniker – a USB drive containing a unique narrative thread – to his debut LP, which featured a card game and short film set in the life of a billboard salesman who’s having a nervous breakdown, his work has never adhered to any specific release schedule. He bucks conventional distribution models and utilizes the physical aspects of his music as part of its overall experience.
With his upcoming sophomore album, “Light Reading” (out Jan. 11), he adopts the format of an imaginary reading list, with each song corresponding to an outlandishly titled book. He turns this curious exercise into a pointed glimpse into the worlds of ghost singers, failed philosophers and various dead ideas. It’s both a cautionary tale of the dangers of prescribed realities and an appeal for the need for knowledge, in all its factual and social capacity, to be sustained and supported.
On his latest single, “A Doorbell for Finite Beings,” he corrals a brew of warbling electronic sounds, martial percussion and voices bathed in all manner of distortion. It’s a cacophony to be sure, but one which harnesses its inherent melodic anarchy to great effect. Blooping synths roam and ravage the landscape while his voice oversees it all, an ever-present transfiguration that perfectly complements the ensuing byzantine interactions.
“It’s a song about Maxwell’s Demon,” Walsh explains, “the thought experiment from James Clerk Maxwell that posited a potential break with the laws of thermodynamics, also having big implications for information theory. A little guy that could separate cold and hot molecules without taking any energy. So with that as the context, the song is about a breakup where a literal building doorman seems to play an unsettling role separating the couple. Kinda like how when you break up with someone there always seems to be one partner receiving the life force while the other is drained.”