Stephan Mathieu

A Static Place

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REVIEW: SONOMU (.NET)

VISIT The arc described by the recording career of Stephan Mathieu (b. 1967) since debuting at the beginning of the century has been fascinating to follow. From laterally-thinking ”clicks´n´cuts” to a singular take on the DJ mix with ”Full Swing Edits”, he slowly gravitated toward more more abstract, beatless music teased out of the most obscure sources.

For A Static Place, he has dipped into a collection of the earliest recorded, ”historically informed” performances of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque music from the period 1928-32, amplifying the sound picked up by the cactus needle, emanating from the gramophone horn, captured by a microphone and finally fed into his computer for processing.

Apporpriating decommissioned sound delivery systems triggers our nostalgia for memories barely remembered while at the same time opening up a new vista of sound hardly imagined. It is no suprise that he teaches digital arts and theory at home and abroad, although it seems much more fun to experience his skill in practise.

”Schwarzschild Radius” opens like a dew-dappled flower to the light of the morning sun – slowly, langurously – and the four, extended pieces which follow do nothing to hasten the pace. Though nominally ”static”, there is obvious progression and distinction between instruments, although you´d be hard pressed to have identified clavichord, lute or hurdy-gurdy had you not been informed in advance. Though conceptually advanced and technologically intriguing, the sheer beauty of the thing is the point – accessible, enchanting and otherworldly. There are spirits speaking through Mathieu´s machines.
Stephan Mathieu
A Static Place