Marbyllia Uncountable Spheres (LP)

The Ontario underground has always produced some of the most provocative artists known around the world, and this February it’s offering us another bold duo of musicians with a talent for making impeccably experimental music in instrumentalists Marbyllia. Marbyllia is a collaborative project from Bill Gilliam and Margaret Maria dedicated to exploring the depths of the modern compositional void, and in their new record Uncountable Spheres, they take a uniquely Canadian approach to their mission. There are more than a couple of really stirring experimental albums out this month, but if you’re looking for something guaranteed to throw you a curveball in the best way possible, I don’t think you’re likely to hear anything quite as rousing as what this artist includes in the masterfully meticulous Uncountable Spheres.


Although steeped in experimental aesthetics, the tonality of the instrumentation in “Gravitational March,” “Thermospheric Drift,” “Exiting Exosphere,” and “Unexplored Worlds” is spot-on amazing. Even the slightest hue from the cello sounds particularly warm, not to mention about as far away from tinny artificiality as you can get without going completely stripped down. Big beats have their place in today’s musical climate, but in the case of Uncountable Spheres, it was smart of Marbyllia to keep them out of the picture altogether.

There isn’t a lot of extra space in this master mix, and yet there’s never a point in tracks like “Our Sacred Troposphere” or “Stratosphere in Distress” in which we are made to feel suffocated by the stoic discharge of grime. The cello and piano keys can act as ingredients for a potent ambient release, and by utilizing them as cleanly and efficiently as they did on this occasion, Marbyllia was able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls commonly associated with musical excess. they show no interest in over-the-top theatrics here; only expanding upon concepts as they conjure them up, seemingly in real-time.

There are some slight jazz influences in “Exiting Exosphere” and “Unexplored Worlds” that I would love to hear Marbyllia experiment a little more with in the future. Right now, there are a lot of different directions in which they could push the ambient style of play that they’ve produced in Uncountable Spheres, but above all else, their mathematical treatment of harmonization is something they need to try exploiting more. It could yield some tremendous artistic breakthroughs on their end, which in turn would shine a bit more of the spotlight on the Toronto scene’s upcoming exports in the months ahead.


It’s not something that will meet the needs of everyone’s taste, but for the audience that Uncountable Spheres was tailor-made for, listeners cannot afford to miss out on what Marbyllia has to say here. Instrumental music of this strain has come a long way from the early days, and thanks to performers like Marbyllia, its continued growth can be assured through yet another era of popular music. This duo has made a believer out of me, and after this record finds a home left of the dial this coming spring, I think the same will be true for other cello and keys connoisseurs.

Mark Druery