Over the course of their respective career arcs, Robbie Lee and Lea Bertucci have continuously gone against the grain. The experimental-minded, multi-instrumental pair—as solo artists or through their myriad collaborations—have pushed the boundaries of explorative sound design and free improvisation with idiosyncratic aplomb. Winds Bells Falls demonstrates their telepathic connection and penchant for sculpting otherworldly environments. Partially recorded during Bertucci’s residency at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works in 2019 in another unique setting (a studio inside a shipping container), these nine psychedelic experiments are like magical rainbows splattered on a blank canvas.
They’re also a real team effort. Lee feeds sounds culled from medieval and baroque woodwinds, early 1900s-era bells, chimes, and other gizmos in his stash to Bertucci, who wrangles a dizzy array of blips, bleeps, and dings from a reel-to-reel machine. What the duo transmit is an alien mix of musique concrète, free improv and noise, but a feather-light one that whizzes around like a pleasant breeze.
Winds Bells Falls begins with “Glitter and Gleam,” which sums up the bright mood of the record. It sublimely captures the vibe of a mangled bedtime lullaby as Bertucci manipulates Lee’s celeste (also called a bell-piano) tones to create a woozy, pinballing dreamscape. “Meiosis” and “Twine and Tape” dart about in similarly playful fashion. Meanwhile, on “Mitosis” and “Azimuth,” Lee and Bertucci spew out gnarly, belching convulsions that wouldn’t be out of place at a noise-music festival. Winds Bells Falls is like Beaches and Canyons-era Black Dice teaming up with the late great electronic-music pioneer Pauline Oliveros for a set.