lundi 18 avril 2011

Wade Matthews - Absent Friends

WADE MATTHEWS - Absent Friends (Sillon, 2005)

Wade Matthews: electronics

After the Doneda and Rombolá outings on Sillón reviewed in these pages last month, you might be forgiven for expecting more of Wade Matthews' work on bass clarinet and flute (especially if you're familiar with his two Creative Sources releases Aspirations & Inspirations and Dining Room Music), but no: Absent Friends is subtitled "Seven Electronic Improvisations" and finds the French-born American improviser using Reaktor software to turn a G4 Powerbook into a virtual analog synthesizer. For the benefit of trainspotters his setup consists of "four audible multiple wave oscillators, a white noise generator with dedicated two-pole resonating filter, three low-frequency oscillators (which can control amplitude, frequency and/or filter depth, cut-off, etc.) a main filter that can be controlled by the LFOs, a bunch of secondary filters and a four-oscillator chorus unit." So now you know. It's not surprising that Matthews goes into detail here, as he studied electronic music with Mario Davidovsky at the mythic Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, where his doctoral dissertation consisted of three pieces for improvisers guided by electronic sounds. "I'm not a woodwind improviser who's just moved into electronics because they’re 'in' right now. My electronic experience goes back almost a quarter of a century," he points out.
These seven tracks come from a set of 19 real time improvisations Matthews recorded while on holiday in France last summer. "I built a 'patch', just as I would with an analog synthesizer, then began to play it, listening to its character and altering its parameters as I went along. I can honestly say it was the easiest recording experience I’ve ever had," he admits. Though the pieces may have emerged in a spate of activity, it's clear he's spent long hours fine-tuning his equipment and perfecting his individual sounds. And despite all the technical info above, this is by no means arid, cerebral music: it's at times vibrant, thrilling, haunting, moving, even disturbing – but consistently impressive. More of Matthews' electronic work is scheduled for release shortly on Creative Sources, in the form of a duo project Mørske-Lys with Ingar Zach. If it's as good as this I can't wait to hear it.–DW

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