An entirely percussive album, The Floating Bubble is the latest work from musician and instrument designer/builder Ron George. The release features creations such as the Tambellan (a variation of the gamelan) and the Super Vibe (which I'm assuming is some sort of variation on a vibraphone). The three long pieces on the recording were written especially for George and his instruments and range from just a couple players clear on up to seven different musicians, veering from semi-harsh and microtonal to downright pretty.
It may seem like the sort of thing that will launch into minimalism and stick there, but the end result is much more improvisational in feel. "Gupta Sloka Chand" opens the release with some quiet vibes and deeper drums, layering in more and more mallet instrument layers as it unfolds. The opening section is downright playful and has the feel of a Steve Reich piece without the precision before it melts into a more droning, tonal midsection and finally a more crazed finale that's closer to a percussive free-for-all.
"Sleep And Waking" is also broken into three distinct sections, and after opening with some creepy gamelan cascades and bells that definitely give the impression of slowly waking from a troubled dreamtime, the second movement only adds to the layering and disorientation while the third section stretches out into more sparse regions, with a few hints of abrasive noise. Album-titled "The Floating Bubble" closes it all out with a twenty-minute piece that again mingles the vibraphone and gamelan sounds with some deep gong sounding hits in a piece that's always moving (but again ends up in an eerie, droning place). While it certainly has some stand-out moments, the biggest problem with The Floating Bubble is that there simply isn't enough direction or variety to truly compel for its full running length. The instruments that George has created make for some stunning moments in sound, but musically it's not a release that's super compelling unless you simply can't get enough vibes and percussion.