Stephan Mathieu Stephan MathieuTo Describe George Washington Bridge
DEKORDER (DEKORDER051, 10” + digital)
Stephan Mathieu’s baggage is very different from Leyland Kirby’s, although they come from similar origins. Both are artists who use audio as a colour palette painting landscapes: some are rocky, like the early digital experiments with noise by V/Vm, and others are desert-like, as during the transit years when Kirby began to forget about electronic terrorism and focus on deep meditation on life and the past through calm ambient. Stephan Mathieu never was a warrior or a comedian, rather the opposite; the New Yorker comes from the intellectual scene of the digital audio of the nineties, a post-isolationist fascinated by pure audio, clicks’n’cuts and, little by little, entering this decade, noir ambient with phantoms hidden between the folds. What has happened, therefore, is that two paths that originally didn’t cross have merged over the past few years. Yes, Kirby and Mathieu are almost twin souls, according to this 10” (and also to “A Static Place”, Mathieu’s album on 12k from earlier this year and 2008’s “Radioland” on Die Schachtel), on which the sound is pure hauntology with captivating effects.
The method, for starters, is interesting: with an old gramophone and 78 RPM shellac records, Mathieu has sampled various audio sources and treated them digitally, in order to turn them into a spacious lament on which the melancholy of the original recordings, some of which are over a century old, is conserved. All those harmonic and melodic lines are later mixed on two tracks (ten minutes in total) that invade the space transmitting feelings of melancholy, desperation, calmness and quietness, depending on the moment. The title is, at the same time, a description of what the audio produces: to be at a high point, admiring the immensity of the sea and the city at your feet, your gaze fixed on the horizon, feeling weightless, wanting to jump from the bridge without fear of falling. Or, at least, that’s what I feel when these two songs hypnotise me when I’m in bed. Spectacular sonic art.