Memorybell

Memorybell (Photo by Peter Bo Rappmund)Memorybell explores the emotional and environmental possibilities of ambient music, creating pieces that are simultaneously cinematic and intimate, evoking solitude and yearning, affliction and recovery. Debut album Obsolete, created using just a creaky grand piano and two microphones, is as concerned with exploring the spaces between notes as the notes themselves, giving each song room to breath and encouraging the ear to wander.

 

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Discography

 

No Anchor


May 2021

On No Anchor, Grant Hazard Outerbridge expands the scope of his ambient work, crafting three long-form drone pieces that together comprise nearly 80 minutes of music. The core sounds for the album were recorded in late 2019 while Outerbridge’s studio was under construction, then developed during the pandemic to incorporate complex signal processing and layers of his core instrument, the piano. 

No Anchor fades into view with the gently rushing ‘Beneath a Soft Clearing’, which evokes the feeling of travelling at speed while insulated from turbulence. The noise of the waking world encroaches more boldly in ‘Soon to Wake’, as surface static begins to crackle and hum. Then, on the monumental 42-minute title track, all terrestrial points of focus begin to fade, as a deep soundscape stretches to the horizon. The resulting album feels like a waking dream, a tactile, shimmering, gorgeously immersive experience.

 

 

Solace


October 2020

Taking inspiration from moments of repose, Solace sees Memorybell expand upon the pockets of stillness introduced in Obsolete and enlarge them until one can become lost. Solace explores the kinds of natural phenomena that can calm an anxious mind, such as watching an orange sunrise over snow or sitting alone in a quiet forest. These moments of inspiration provide the core of each song, with a few seconds transformed into expansive meditations.

The mechanics of creating the album mimic the ideas that inspired it. In late 2016, Outerbridge began building a modular synthesizer that became the source instrument, alongside piano. Notes are sustained and re-shaped into resonant tones effacing their initial impulses. Piano phrases bounce between filters and echo into themselves; arpeggiated strings become mist; one thought dissolves into many. This scattering of focus creates a blanket of sound, a feeling that there is nowhere to look but everywhere.

 

 

Obsolete


June 2016

Obsolete is the debut album by piano minimalist Memorybell.  Exploring the emotional and environmental possibilities of ambient music, Memorybell creates pieces that are simultaneously cinematic and intimate, evoking solitude and yearning, affliction and recovery. Recorded live in a single sitting using just a creaky grand piano and two microphones, Obsolete is as concerned with exploring the spaces between notes as the notes themselves, giving each song room to breathe and encouraging the ear to wander. The percussive qualities of the piano are almost dissolved by the air surrounding each note, leaving an aching space for the tones to resonate.

 

Biography

Memorybell is the ambient project of Grant Hazard Outerbridge, a multi-instrumentalist and classically trained pianist who has been playing music for nearly 30 years. From 2003 to 2008, he played bass, keys, and occasionally sang in band The Very Hush Hush. Alternately called dream-pop, electro-pop, shoegaze and indie, TVHH released two albums, Mourir C’est Facile (2006) and Evil Milk (2008), and two EPs, Washing Songs (2003) and Sign Language (2004). They toured nationally and shared the stage with bands such as Okkervil River, Stereolab, and TV on the Radio. In 2010, under the name Grant Hazard, Outerbridge self-released Genus Euphony, a solo effort of classical piano infused with subtle electronics.

In February 2014, Outerbridge awoke in a hospital with no memory of how he had arrived. He was diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a condition that causes the brain to temporarily stop making new memories. When he returned to the piano, Outerbridge found his previous compositions sounded garish. He pared them down to their essence and, along with new, more spacious material, constructed a set of variegated and subtle songs that explore the interplay between dissonance and silence.

Grant lives with his wife and sons in Denver, CO.

News

Reviews

  • Memorybell “No Anchor” Reviewed at Echoes and Dust

    “I’ve never heard anything by Memorybell or the music of the artist behind the sobriquet, Grant Hazard Outerbridge, but as soon as I saw the cover art and read that it was piano-centered ambient music, I got the sense that I would enjoy No Anchor immensely. The album is compromised of three long-form pieces, with the title track doubling up in length to expand over 40-minutes.

    ‘Beneath A Soft Clearing’ opens the album with warm, contemplative pads secreting opiate mountains of sedation to battered hungover brains and overworked eyes. Each intermittent piano key stroke, a sunbeam cascading onto an otherwise dismal day. Ambient music is like a balm or a dressing on the acid burn of capitalism; almost anyone can seemingly do it. But, it has an almost divine, transgressive grace to it. It’s a genre of narcotic reprieve, and whilst it means that very few artist’s sit atop the pile as the ultimate high, the vast majority of ambient artists, I tend to enjoy and this is no placebo. This first fifteen minutes of couch-slump, post-dopamine surge tranquillisation is as effective as any other great ambient/drone work in its ability to take the overwhelming chaos of existence and slow it down into gentle manageable waves of time, space, emotion and expectation.

    The serenity carries over into the sophomore track, ’Soon To Wake’; a track reaching out with tape hiss arms and crackled embracing intentions. These delicate oscillations of noise, like shampoo slowly dissolving between ears and bathwater amidst ovarian peace and comfort. The true beauty of this music is its ability to lure the listener deep into the cosmos of introspection. Its composition is rudimentary, but its production is well-polished and its emotional efficacy casts a tall shadow over the vast majority of releases we’re submitted day-to-day.

    I could say that this album just requires the patience to enjoy it, but I am extremely impatient and this album when I gave it my time rewarded with me clarity of thought, allocated space to set everything else aside and a journey out of this world into my own subconscious. Sometimes you have to remember that nothing really matters, everything we know is a societal construction or a humanisation of sciences beyond comprehension and we are all free, even when we choose to bow and conform and sink into the sand box lifestyle of salaryman capitalism. At any point, you could run off into the woods and start again, all on your own willpower. At any point, you could abuse the system, swelter in a haze of addictions and barbarise your mind into a paste of ignorance. At any point, you could follow your dream, take a leap of faith, stop saying what if and begin saying what next? All it takes is one deep repine into the wilderness of your thoughts.

    I like to imagine that ‘No Anchor’ is quite aware of how far away and interconnected with the album the listener is at this point. After half an hour of meditative listening, it’s quite safe to assume that most people will likely be thinking about other things. Each person on a rudderless journey into an almost medicated state, no anchor for direction, always moving, changing, ascending, transforming. The track becomes almost like time itself; a vast river where you place your hand in and never touch the same water for a second. Each part droplet of the river is its own unique piece making a greater whole. This track is repetitive, but each swirling pad is informed by its predecessor. We don’t experience it the same because it rides the momentum of each of its formers. None of these pad strokes are the same. They inhabit the same space, but have different contexts and intentions and from one end to the other they evolve the track like slow falling dominoes. Seemingly its all the same but, every little thing pushes a little differently.

    No Anchor is an excellent ambient/drone album that I’d highly recommend to fans of the genre and psychonauts alike.”

    – Echoes and Dust

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  • Memorybell Interview at Westword

    After Grant Hazard Outerbridge released his 2016 debut ambient piano album, Obsolete, under the moniker Memorybell, he started going down the modular-synth rabbit hole. Modules can vary from altering frequency, amplitude and spectrum to dynamic control and voltage, giving a musician a wider set of sonic possibilities.

    It took the classically trained pianist about two years to find his bearings and work in the modular-synth environment. He equates experimenting with the synths — turning knobs, mangling, altering and smearing sounds — to being a mad scientist. Notes can be sustained or reshaped into resonant impulses, while piano phrases can be bounced between filters and echo into themselves.

    “It’s like building with Legos, but then you get to listen to your results in addition to looking at it,” he says. It was really intimidating, but it was also super-fascinating and fulfilling. I couldn’t literally not think of something further away from playing the piano. And that’s what I wanted, you know, to force myself to grow as an artist and be able to communicate more complex, interesting ideas.”

    Not long after getting a handle on modular synths, Outerbridge stumbled across Freq Boutique, a monthly open-mic night at Fort Greene, hosted by WMD, the Denver-based Eurorack modular-synth and guitar-pedal company.

    Outerbridge became a regular at Freq Boutique and eventually joined the Colorado Modular Synth Society, playing newer ambient compositions that he’d been working on, some of which hushed the crowd.

    “There were songs where people were dead silent while I was playing,” he says. “That a really crowded bar just goes totally quiet, it’s a feeling that sends shivers down my spine. It’s like literally everybody is stopping and paying attention. There must be something in this song that’s worth keeping.”

    Outerbridge took seven songs that prompted that kind of response and recorded them for the new album, Solace, which drops on October 2 on the Australian label Hidden Shoal. Many of those songs for the album were written in 2018, when he was busy and stressed, spending six hours a day scoring film projects. During his downtime, he worked on his own material as a way to stay sane during that time, thinking, “What are some of these calming thoughts that can ease your mind or make your anxious mind feel calmer and at peace?”

    “We still need to find a way to feel centered and human and not like just crazy, insane people reacting to every little thing that happens, which is how I personally was feeling about everything,” Outerbridge says.

    While most of Solace was recorded using his modular synthesizer, “Sigh of Floes” is a piano-based song that starts in the neoclassical vein and gradually morphs into the ambient realm as echoes start to swell and smear sounds together. Hidden Shoal founder Cam Merton shot the video for the song.

    The cover of Solace is a photo of the crumbled remains of a hotel that was built in the 1800s. Not long after COVID-19 lockdowns started in mid-March, Outerbridge and his family rented a secluded cabin near a hot spring between Gunnison and Crested Butte.

    “There’s just something about that shot that just really resonated with me,” he says. “It’s crumbling. It’s falling apart. People used to come here 100 years ago in the early 1900s, during the last pandemic, to try and heal and unwind. And then here we are, years later, and I’m staring at the crumbling version of what came before that. It just really sat with me and really affected me.”

    While Outerbridge says he’s never been so musically productive as during the pandemic, noting that he’s got about three albums’ worth of material recorded, he’s also offering his mixing and mastering services to other musicians who have been using the past six months to make music.

    “I think the pandemic forced a lot of people to re-examine what’s most important to them,” he says, “with no endpoint definitively in sight. It’s been crazy to me how much amazing, good, interesting and evocative emotional content I get exposed to in my musical circles by people that obviously have always had it in them.”

    Westword (interview by Joe Solomon)

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  • Memorybell ‘Sigh of Floes’ Reviewed at Rural Sounds

    “Memorybell shares with us his latest single, ‘Sigh of Floes” from his upcoming release, Solace which will be released on october 2nd. The song has a glacial like feeling to it – everything moves into itself at the right moment in time, creating a reflective and introspective piece to get lost within.

    Taking inspiration from moments of repose, Solace sees Memorybell expand upon the pockets of stillness introduced in Obsolete and enlarge them until one can become lost. Solace explores the kinds of natural phenomena that can calm an anxious mind, such as watching an orange sunrise over snow or sitting alone in a quiet forest. These moments of inspiration provide the core of each song, with a few seconds transformed into expansive meditations.”

    Rural Sounds

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  • “Eat Your Friends” Compilation Reviewed at DOA

    “Over almost a decade, Hidden Shoal records developed a reputation as a consistently innovative and experimental music label, giving to us music of remarkable qualities whether it was the instrumental excursions of Gilded, the blissed-out indie of My Majestic Star, the electronica of Marcus Mehr, the alt.folk stylings of Kramies – the HSR list of significant talents was a lengthy one. I say was, as in 2014 or thereabouts, the Hidden Shoal label underwent a reorganisation of sorts, and it began to seem that one of the more influential Australian record labels of the recent past was itself going into hiding. Perhaps so, although only to return refreshed, renewed, invigorated and with its varying artistic visions intact – the Eat Your Friends compilation proves that the Hidden Shoal label is properly with us again.

    One thing I’ve found when reviewing compilations is that not infrequently, when I put them into my music players, the tracks separate instead of remaining in their album folder, and that has happened with my copy of Eat Your Friends, encouraging me to view each of the tracks as a single release rather than view the album itself as a cohesive whole. Then there’s the fact that only some of its contributors are already known to me and so, ditching some of my preconceptions about what it’s going to sound like, I began listening to the 11 tracks in a random sequence, and prepared for the unexpected.

    Firstly, there’s singer/songwriter Erik Nilsson’s “Moksha Can Wait”, a song which electronic composer Marcus Mehr has taken and adapted to his subtly developed production sound, a track that begins almost inaudibly and builds to a staggering crescendo of soaring, roaring electronic sound and with Nilsson’s guitar and piano providing a counterpoint to Mehr’s swirling atmospherics. The ambient chill of City Of Satellites is given an added gloss by Tim Manzano, although I’m not so sure what he’s actually done with the track – it does sound a lot like the City Of Satellites I know from their Machine Is My Animal album, although as the track progresses and the rhythm and bass begin to disintegrate into a dubby conclusion it seems more apparent where Manzano has left his mark. Arc Lab’s “Through The Burning Glass” is remixed by Glanko, beginning with a club-level bassline before levelling into a noir tinged synth epic. And just when you thought the tracks on Eat Your Friends were entirely instrumentals, Rew perform a cover version of Umpire’s “Green Light District” and they do it with a vocal, alongside the strings and crashing cymbals and haltingly uncertain rhythms, a highlight of an album each of whose tracks is in one or another way remarkable.”

    DOA

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  • Memorybell’s “Obsolete” Reviewed at Headphone Commute

    “It’s been a while since I’ve visited the archives of Australian Hidden Shoal label. And, as usual with any label taking curation seriously, it’s easy to pick up the catalog and return to where one’s left off. This time, the imprint releases an album by a classically trained pianist, Grant Hazard Outerbridge, a 40-minute exploration of minimalism, caught in between the ringing out notes. It is this nearly simplistic study of reductionist pianism that has me interested in listening to Obsolete over and over again – after all, I’ve been creating such pieces myself.

    Delicate keys are at the forefront of each short vignette. In fact, it is only the keys that one hears, plus the ambient sounds of the player picked up by the microphones. Perhaps what one must listen to is not the chords, but the space between the chords, where the percussive instruments changes to a nearly resonating stretch of sound, left slowly to decay into the silence and the void. It’s like a moment between thoughts, when one finds clarity for the first time, as dust of all the daily noise finally settles down before it’s shaken up again. The solo piano recording becomes an indispensable accompaniment to the morning meditation, a soundtrack to solitude and score for introspection. And Obsolete comes with a story:

    “In February 2014, Outerbridge awoke in a hospital with no memory of how he had arrived. He was diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a condition that causes the brain to temporarily stop making new memories. When he returned to the piano, Outerbridge found his previous compositions sounded garish. He pared them down to their essence and, along with new, more spacious material, constructed a set of variegated and subtle songs that explore the interplay between dissonance and silence.”

    This acoustic ambiance is essential to anyone searching for an aural retreat from an over-compressed world of packaged sound. Like music for the airports, designed to calm and soothe the nervous soul, Obsolete blankets the mind with nominal sounds, leaving the heart to fill out the rest. [Don’t let the cover of the album turn you away!] Dig deeper through Outerbridge’s catalog, and you shall find another album, Genus Euphony, released in 2010. Highly recommended for fans of solo piano and intersected genres, where Brian Eno meets Satie.”

    Headphone Commute

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  • Memorybell “Obsolete” Reviewed at Music Won’t Save You

    [Translated from the original Italian via Google.]

    An old piano and two microphones: it is enough, now, for musicians to navigate and young experimenters to create rich sound environments of a variety of different suggestions. In the case of Grant Hazard Outerbridge the concrete elaboration of the formula came to the valley of a thirty-year career and after an episode of transient amnesia, that moved him to reconsider his process of composition in an extremely minimal sense.

    From what has taken shape the Memorybell project, alias under which the artist Colorado presents eight tracks of “Obsolete”, populated by resonant harmonies narcoleptic in a muffled and dusty space, which embody a well hauntologia piano bare-bones.

    Music Won’t Save You

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  • Memorybell “Obsolete” Reviewed at Tomatrax

    “This is the debut album from Memorybell, the ambient project of Grant Hazard Outerbridge. The album was recorded live in a single sitting using just a creaky grand piano and two microphones, and focuses on the silence between the musical notes as much as the notes themselves.

    This is quite an unusual album that takes experimentation to a new extreme. The music is all about feelings and atmosphere and makes use of the “empty” spaces in the sound as well as the sounds. With nothing but a piano, and only a few simple notes played at any one time, this album is as minimalist as it gets but somehow the spaced out simple notes work to create a dark but intriguing soundscape. This is very much an album for the ambient music lovers out there, if you need to hear tunes and activity this might not be for you.

    The album opens with the two minute and very minimalist Koan. Moving slowly with one key played at a time it sets the dark scene of the album. ‘Doldrums’ sees the activity begun to build, if only in a glacial sense. The song consists of short and slow groups of notes, allowing the feeling of both the sounds and the silence to come through and be felt. ‘Ambulator’ takes things down a notch, with simple repetitive notes slowly working their way through.

    ‘Somnolent’ sees the lower keys getting a workout to create a deeper and darker sound. The title track is perhaps the most active track on the record, with the notes coming together and the silences closing in a melody starts to emerge. ‘Entropy’ sees the gaps almost disappear with a slow tune rolling along. The closing track, ‘Dust’, takes things back to the minimalist sound with a simple low key being played between chunks of silence.
    It has to be said that this is an extremely experimental and unconventional record. As a result there are many listeners to whom this will not be accessible. However if you are a fan of ambient and minimalist music there is something quite beautiful to be found here.”

    Tomatrax

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  • Memorybell “Obsolete” Reviewed at Exclaim!

    “While much has been made about Jean-Michel Blais’ excellent solo piano debut on Arts & Crafts this year, another equally captivating record has unduly received far less attention. Grant Hazard Outerbridge’s debut as Memorybell is ambient minimalist piano that is much less involved than Blais’ — in fact, Blais’ lovely album sounds positively baroque next to Memorybell’s effortless calm.

    For over a decade, Outerbridge has been a touring indie musician and classical composer, but in 2014, he was diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a condition that causes the brain to temporarily stop making new memories. His old compositions sounded “garish” to him, so he began work on much more sparse, gossamer compositions using one creaky piano and two microphones.

    Memorybell channels the wandering and simplicity-loving spirits of Erik Satie, Brian Eno and William Basinski using short figures with so much space between each phrase that you almost forget the notes before were played. Outerbridge will play a few notes, then let them hang in emptiness for a few whole seconds before continuing the melodic idea.

    While it’s an interesting way to play with musical memory, this much silence requires a lot of patience, or a willingness to let one’s focus drift. Fans of Eno or Grouper will be pleased with another addition to their playlists for meditation, studying or falling asleep. Some may find the lack of memorable tune or beat frustrating, but those with the right inclination will appreciate the contemplative spaces between notes.”

    Exclaim!

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  • Memorybell “Obsolete” Reviewed at Turtle Tempo

    “What if we told you a person woke up in a hospital with absolutely no recollection of his arrival there is on his way to becoming a sensation? Okay, how about this: a person diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a condition causing sudden memory loss and the person to lose the ability to form new memories and recall recent events, is dedicating his time to creating the most beautiful ambient tracks you will ever hear.

    Sounds too good to be true? See for yourself.

    Grant Hazard Outerbridge has created this project under the name “Memorybell“, releasing his album “Obsolete“. His music will be able to instill feelings and deep emotions in you that you weren’t expecting. It’s so incredible to see that such beautiful art can be created using only a grand piano. Memorybell’s minimalist ambience makes you appreciate the silence in every pause to allow you the chance to absorb the intense feeling in his sound.”

    Turtle Tempo

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  • Memorybell “Obsolete” Reviewed at Anthem

    “Memorybell is the ambient project of Grant Hazard Outerbridge, a multi-instrumentalist and classically trained pianist who has been playing music for nearly three decades. From 2003 to 2008, he played bass, keys, and occasionally sang in band The Very Hush Hush, who toured nationally and shared the stage with bands such as Okkervil River, Stereolab, and TV on the Radio. In 2010, under the name Grant Hazard, Outerbridge self-released ‘Genus Euphony’, a solo effort of classical piano infused with subtle electronics.

    In February 2014, Outerbridge awoke in a hospital with no memory of how he had arrived. He was diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a condition that causes the brain to temporarily stop making new memories. When he returned to the piano, Outerbridge found his previous compositions sounded garish. He pared them down to their essence and, along with new, more spacious material, constructed a set of variegated and subtle songs that explore the interplay between dissonance and silence.

    Carrying his newfound sound forward, Outerbridge adopted the new moniker of Memorybell, creating a new musical project that explores the emotional and environmental possibilities of ambient music, creating pieces that are simultaneously cinematic and intimate, evoking solitude and yearning, affliction and recovery.

    After landing in the hands of Hidden Shoal, an Australia-based independent music label, Outerbridge put in motion his new album ‘Obsolete’, an ambient recording of immense potential. Recorded live in a single sitting using only a creaky grand piano and two microphones, ‘Obsolete’ holds a rare, solitary sound and lingering brilliance that most ambient pieces can only dream of.

    It’s spacious, with songs often composed of just a few hallowed notes, but what Outerbridge creates from the silence between is astonishing. Deeply affecting and instantly captivating, the album captures Outerbridge’s world in vivid sound and tantalising composition. 8/10”

    Anthem Reviews

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Licensing

Memorybell’s music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.