The gentle static of dissipation releases a presence of sound. Apply this notion to Brooklyn's Tyler Gilmore, recording under the name BlankFor.ms, as he dips further into experiments with analog tape, digital replication, and the modular machinery existing somewhere in between. In the hands of BlankFor.ms, tones crackle with subtle manipulation, and melodic cadences convalesce then wither. A piano may appear before it's swept away in lowered notches of filtration. The result is strangely affecting, touching lightly into the tension of life's earnestness.
Following releases on Bitbird and Puremagnetik, as well as remixes for The Cinematic Orchestra and Arthur Moon, BlankFor.ms has unveiled In Part, his debut on the Mystery Circles imprint. BlankFor.ms expands on concepts introduced with the title track of 2020's Memory EP, a direction that signals a renewed attention to the craft of composition. As for the album's underlying theme, In Part is an exercise in paired elements. Songs come in couples, sharing certain textures and phrases, until BlankFor.ms finally explores an artist pairing in collaboration with Leaving Records producer Colloboh. In Part's sequence features six tracks but the pairings obscure that number — songs may combine or pull apart as one listens, just as duos will form and eventually go separate ways.
But these ideas inspired by In Part are simple impressions. BlankFor.ms insists there is no story, no concept. "I'm not a composer that desires programmatic narrative," Gilmore says. "I care more about the listener than the process. I think of my relationship with the listener in terms of trust, and I'm trying to earn it." It's enough that In Part simply captivates, drawing the listener into its design without the need for context or set-up. The music is open and available primarily through the warmth of its execution.
"Ardor" presents the first pairing, born from a keyboard improvisation and developed into dual aspects. The opening section is sparse and resolute. It highlights a piano motif loaded with nostalgic imperfections. Part Two builds these melodies outward with modular processing and a restrained rhythm that bends towards moodiness. This mode persists with "Inside," with transitional elements linking sections and pad clusters bounced through pedals and tape.
"Formal" and "Round" show BlankFor.ms' continued exploration of sounds altered within the signal chain. Synths spewed to pedals, then to the digital realm, then delivered to the ghosts of analog tape and back again — no combination is untried. "Formal," which Gilmore notes as a personal highlight, features a minimum of musical material, kept fresh through timbral changes. Conversely, "Round" is harmonically complex. "I built the song on a repeating phrase of three chords modulating to a new key with each cycle," Gilmore explains. "It ends up feeling like an endless melody."
In Part is completed by "Roam," BlankFor.ms' collaboration with Colloboh. Drafts were sent back and forth between Brooklyn and Baltimore, beginning with a BlankFor.ms tape loop that inspired Colloboh's rhythmic complement. The added keyboard lines, percussive flourishes, and textural embellishments are recognizably 'kosmische' in flavor. "Roam" is a playful ending to the album and, perhaps leading to its title, evokes hopeful travel to a busy destination.
The implied dichotomy of In Part resides within the artist, strengthening and deepening the end result. "Everything I make is an attempt at getting to a subconscious place that would probably be better served by therapy rather than music making," says Gilmore. "I desperately want to feel like I can allow the music to sweep me up without reservation, and I apply that need to my work. Rather than thinking of myself as an ambient artist, I am much more concerned with engaged listening." These objectives, with or without stories and contexts attached, are the fibers that distinctively identify the music of BlankFor.ms. Listening is the most crucial aspect of the process.