Garry Havrillay has been prolific this year as he responds to a chaotic world suddenly calmed by the global crisis. On his fifth solo album “Gravity,” the third Blu-ray edition of his work to be released this year, he considers the title in all of its meanings. This instrumental release ranges stylistically from rock to Turkish mash-ups, bubbling with electronic grooves, all while diving into the vast world of the ambient genre.
Across the album Havrillay employs samplers, synthesizers, electric guitars, and zither. Guest musician Chris Basile adds e-bow guitar solos on the title track. For hi-res enthusiasts and surround aficionados the album has been released on Blu-ray featuring 5.1 PCM 96kHz / 24-bit surround and 2.0 PCM 96kHz / 24-bit stereo, and also on a DTS encoded CD. Stereophiles may alternatively pick up a lossless download version through Bandcamp.
I absolutely am delighted that Havrillay has utilized a high sampling rate, I sense it has given greater clarity to his music. Across Gravity, the low end is extremely rich, and the midrange is distinctly warm, with the top end glistening with a brilliant focus as parts emanate from all corners of the room.
On the opening track “Karsilama,” percussive patterns hit from the main four channels, teasing the ear with fantastic aural candy treats. They seemingly dance around the room, yet remain stationary in their location playing their specified patterns. The following track “The Daily News” falls closer to a movie soundtrack with effects simulating natural elements that rumble and swish from the center and back channels in a masterful encompassing way. Atmospheric soundscapes fill the room while an extremely round base gently grooves in between the front channels. An extremely solid and deep kick drum ties into the rhythm adding in a wonderfully fat snare. There is an openness to these mixes which add real depth to the pieces making for an engaging immersive listen.
Havrillay wastes no time at showing off how adept he is at creating an encompassing surround mix. The aural tapestry that has been painted is an absolute pleasure for the ears. This is extended to the diversity of his creative talents which becomes easily apparent with the inclusion of the traditional Turkish mash-up “Kemani.” Making an 80 year leap through time, Havrillay adds electric guitar and bass on this duet that he plays with double string violinist Kemani Memduh Bey taken from a 78rpm disc. I remain ecstatic about the stellar clarity of the recording as the superb surround mix unfolds across the albums through the crafty placement of instruments around the soundscape.
The title track veers heavily into the rock world, with alternative leanings etched out by crushing guitar chords up front and arpeggiated guitar riffs that scurry from the back channels. Yet, it is Basile’s e-bow guitar solos that are so fascinating on this piece, elevating and subsiding as it soars across the soundstage.
As the album dives into the ambient realm, I was pushed from the rear speakers with swelling synthesizers and later placed into a larger than life cavern with a sampled trumpet on the closing piece “The World Has Gone Quiet.” As the trumpet drifts across the room several synthesized and sampled tampuras (drone instruments used in Indian classic music) grow in intensity as the piece progresses. Certainly, this reflects the emotion during the early months of 2020 as the world slowed down from the pandemic. I found myself gently spinning down, mirroring a perfect sonic translation which is depicted by the swirly cover art of Gravity, heading deeper and further into the ground as the song reaches the end placing me into a very peaceful space. Take note of the environmental sounds which have been placed in multiple spots chirping around the room. It all decays into pure silence as the gravity of Gravity has been fully conveyed.
Stereophiles will find that the stereo edition of this stunning recording is identical in sound quality to the surround mix. Of course, it does lose the dimensional aspect that is so easily noticed on the surround edition. Yet, the stereo mix remains powerfully dynamic with plenty of ear candy as parts zip across from left to right and vice versa. The mix also provides adequate depth which has been brought out very nicely on Kemani.
Gravity is a top notch release that surround enthusiasts will certainly want to pick up. Likewise, fans of Garry Havrillay’s work will not be disappointed as he continues to masterfully provide engaging instrumental pieces that have been superbly recorded. I strongly recommend getting the Blu-ray, as it will yield the highest sound quality.
Released June 11, 2020
Blu-ray with 96kHz / 24-bit PCM 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo mixes. Also available on a DTS CD and as a 44.1kHz / 16-bit lossless download.