TTW#37 - Stephan Mathieu - Flags
Cassette only - limited edition of 200 copies
A: Fanfare/Level 1-5
B: Logo/Level 6-11
Illustration - Miss Caro Mikalef.
Stephan Mathieu writes: “Flags is a homage to the beauty of data. The pieces are created from photos of my studio equipment which were transformed to audio via header changes.” - Stephan Mathieu, Eschringen, 31 July 2011.
Stephan Mathieu (b. 1967 in Saarbrücken, Germany) is a composer and performer of electroacoustic music, currently presenting his work as installations involving obsolete and historical media such as mechanical gramophones, shortwave receivers, 16mm projectors, analog computers, as well as Renaissance instruments.
“I'm a collector of 78rpm records from the 1910s and 20s, the era of acoustic and early electronic audio recording. I love the way they transport sound.”
Intensely visceral electro-acoustic sound designs on The Tapeworm. If you've only become familiar with Stephan Mathieu's opulent soundscapes like “Radioland” or his Dekorder 10"s in recent years, then it's probably about time you checked his more challenging digital compositions, and this is a great place to start. We best let Stephan sum this one up: “Flags is a homage to the beauty of data. The pieces are created from photos of my studio equipment which were transferred to audio via header changes”. OK, so that doesn't give away much about what it sounds like. Well, essentially it's not “nice”. There are sounds in here which will make your eyeballs quiver and possibly make you feel like your brain juices are about to run free (especially when consumed on headphones), but for some (us included) that's a very favourable experience. Very highly recommended to fans (who own a tape deck!) of Florian Hecker, Marcus Schmickler, or Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Aquarius Records (US):
One of two new Tapeworm's this week, as in limited cassette releases on UK tape label The Tapeworm, the other is a bit of Tesla coil rhythmatism from NYC audio alchemist Lary Seven, and this one, a selection of data driven sounds created by aQ fave Stephan Mathieu. And we do mean these are actually the sounds of data, with Mathieu taking pictures of his equipment in the studio and then transforming that data into music, or more specifically sound, as while this strange array of grinding static, crunchy rhythms, looped thrum, screeching sine waves and modem-malfunction crunch and stutter may be music to our ears, this is a pretty challenging chunk of abstract industrial rhythms, and Raster-Noton style beep-click-buzz, but raw and blown out and in the red, sound that seem to be pushing the speakers to their very limit, but in doing so, creating a strange sort of low fidelity primitive electronica, a jagged collage of Merzbowish grey noise and crumbling electro-glitch buzz, the sound snowballing into thick squalls of corrosive almost psychedelic sounding blur, but just as often splintering into a strange sort of caveman krautrock, rendered in shades of hum and hiss, peppered with jagged shards of electronic gristle and barbed streaks of smeared hiss.
Definitely pretty far removed from our favorite Mathieu records, but pretty curious and cool nonetheless, a noise record, but one that's dynamic, and rhythmic, surprisingly engaging and listenable in a way much noise is most definitely not.
Vital Weekly (NL):
Stephan Mathieu also gets out of his comfort zone and took some photos of his equipment and transformed these photos to audio via header changes. It was funny to read some of the other reviews of this, with reviewers being surprised at the noisyness of this release. They should surely go back to Mathieu's “Kapotte Muziek by…” for some of his earlier noise and then they would realize that Mathieu is actually very mild here. Unlike the Merzbow like onslaught on that earlier release, Mathieu is loud and noisy, but presents it in a more collage/cut-up like way, which has its quieter moments and yet bounces all over the spectrum. It makes up a rather intense piece of electro-acoustic music, definetly not the kind of music Mathieu is best known. This little mean work however shows Mathieu has humor and is not afraid to alienate some of his fans. Not me, I love noise, certainly when it comes from the likes of Mathieu.