Lee Barbour: Ultrasound
Composer Lee Barbour spends much of his time scoring for film, but with this passion project, he’s created a soundtrack to accompany the biggest scene of his life—becoming a father. Built around field recordings taken during his wife’s (musician Vikki Matsis) pregnancy, the album melds ambient electronica with the soaring jazz-tinged guitar peaks that have landed him in the studio with musicians like Joe Beck (session guitarist with James Brown and Miles Davis) and saxophonist Kebbi Williams (Tedeschi Trucks Band). Barbour is a master of mood, utilizing harmonizers and reverb to evoke the feeling of floating in a womb. The vibe morphs from the D’Angelotinged “Angels Makin Angels” into Hammock-esque etherealness. There are lighter moments—the joyful outbursts of a friend discovering the pregnancy in “Ms. Emily” and the smooth funk of “A Quarter of an Inch”—and segments of dramatic intensity, like the other-worldly yet incredibly present, “Birth.” When Barbour sings, as on “A Moment That Wasn’t,” there’s a Bon Iver-vibe to the beat-backed vocalizations But it’s an instrumental track, “Procession”—a meditation on the coming together of blood and energy to form a new being—that shines brightest. As big, resonant guitars enter over ambient crescendos and electronic rhythms, the sound meld evokes pure hope. Lee Barbour is one of those rare musicians who can imagine a multilayered composition in his head and then manifest it into aural reality. With Ultrasound , he’s captured every ounce of the inspiration a new father feels, and conveyed it into a masterwork full of tears, laughter and poignancy. It’s the ultimate sonic documentary of the joy, pain and growth during this era in a family’s life.