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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Stephan Mathieu
The Sad Mac
Headz Label

Rating: 8/10 ?


May 12, 2005
The Sad Mac is a work of stifled romanticism. It witnesses Mathieu as he ventures further along the path of organic sound sources, trembling through a labyrinth of delays and ring modulations that his previous release, On Tape, began to document. Sketched with fluid brushstrokes of noise, tangible textures and truncated blasts of billowing aural dust, The Sad Mac provides something of a blank canvas on which listeners may freely paint their own brainwaves.

The seventeen-minute "Theme for Oud Amelisweerd" spawns a downhearted disposition, as Georg Freidrich Handel's violin sonatas are tramped underfoot by subtle digital processing like pallid mulberry leaves lost in the muck of a rainy afternoon. As the piece sallies forth, an elongated loop of violin inhales and exhales, functioning as the clothesline where which clouds of chopping noise, cavernous reverb and misty slides of tone are hung.

Organic instruments, from a medley of violas, to solitary bagpipes and alto sax are planted within these pieces, but are buried deeply within the soil of each as Mathieu interpolates this range of sampled sound sources, such that their identity becomes skewed. Now and again, some source material will coalesce out of the sculpted static like weak sunshine through a plane window - such an effect is implemented on "Imagination", where petite, patchy loops of piano melody are played randomly against themselves to create novel tonal configurations, layering distortion and faintly flitting hazes of feedback.

Each piece appears too random to commit to memory, but too planned to surprise gratuitously. With muffled thumps that stammer about, the gaiety of birdsong and insect-like pops and twitches, the work sketches an elusive but undeniable internal logic, which guides the works patient, diverse disclosure of human passion. Indeed, this work seems a testament to the full spectrum of value and form that is the outcome of an embodied engagement with the world.

From the turgid tones of slowly changing pitches strewn across "Theme for Oud Amelisweerd", Mathieu does well to alter his relation to successive pieces, letting organic instruments sketch sad melodies or bounce about in jarring blasts of radio broadcast and earwax-dissolving sine waves before reigning these disparate sounds through a cumulative welter of moderation with ornate, mesmeric throbs of slowly changing pitches.

At times, when these compositions mutate in measured changes that spawn a state of enervation, Mathieu may be aligned with the work of Andrew Chalk, Pauline Oliveros and Akira Rabelais. By and large, though, Mathieu works in a more colorful realm, painting brighter atmospheres with more variation in the figures, all of which may be more readily accessed than those other works of this field, namely Chalk's [wonderful] Fall In The Wake Of A Flawless Landscape, or Rabelais' Benediction Draw.

Meanwhile, taking as its fulcrum the brittle crackle of broken glass being shaken in a burlap sack, as well as a bumblebee hum, "Tinfoil Star" harkens back to Mathieu's earlier efforts. To "icredevirrA", Mathieu adds subtle accents and dripping coats of sheen; the piece swims atop a spiritual sense of foreboding and reminds of Colin Potter's solo endeavors. Characterized by its unruffled manner, mournful demeanor and extended playing time, The Sad Mac is often engrossing, and with a palette of delectable melodies and audacious approaches to sound, it betokens an experience that is both daunting and exhilarating.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer

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