Telo Hoy

Rubber Wing

An album of compositions for vibraphone and electronics which lets process take centre-stage

Rubber Wing’s melodies roll like gears sliding along a chain. Across the album, New York-based composer and vibraphonist Telo Hoy writes melancholy vignettes that linger with ghostly effect, building from short, repeating phrases that marinate in the simplicity of a couple of notes in motion. Though his motifs are uncomplicated, Hoy lets each reverberation last and repeats each theme until it loses steam, meditating on the moments that hang on.

Hoy composed the music of Rubber Wing, his debut solo album, with the idea of machinery in mind. To find his inspiration, he gazes inside his vibraphone, making music that evokes the instrument’s inner workings: its rubber motor belt, resonators, and rotors, which together create its characteristic ringing timbre. He also looks around him, conjuring the swarming sounds of the motors that surround us every day, like a train that chugs along in the distance or a plane that flies overhead. Those sounds come through in the music’s graininess, which is enhanced by Hoy’s use of ARP synthesizers, but they feel more like thematic touchstones than literal elements; his music recalls the transient feeling of travel and progresses with the precision of a machine.

In Hoy’s compositions, process takes the centre stage. His works gradually expand from compact building blocks made of simple melodies that repeat in circles; it’s quiet and contained, focused on the tiny manipulations of each ring of the vibraphone. His stark vignettes meticulously highlight each note he writes, giving them ample room to breathe. Closer ‘Exiting the Station’ builds a sombre story around a tender melody cloaked in fuzz, giving the feeling of a church hymnal; ‘Stem’ blooms from wobbling hums, letting razor-sharp bleats slice through the bubbling tones to create a feeling of precariousness. These tracks blend the mysteriousness and haunted feeling of his synths with the metallic, otherworldly ring of the vibraphone, crafting atmospheres that feel both expansive and reserved. 

But perhaps the most surprising moment on the album comes with ‘Propeller’, which seems to land from nowhere. One of the two longest tracks on the record, the song conjures the sound of a helicopter’s rotor, buzzing at a distance as if it’s just passing by. It cycles alongside a pulsating rhythm, moving with the circular motion of a conveyor belt. Hoy lets the music unfold – he lets each moment naturally unfurl, capturing the patience, suspense, and rumination that comes along with even the smallest changes.

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