Here are two excerpts from live reviews for the concert TSU/Rob Curgenven & Jörg-Maria Zeger, Benny Nilsen and I played at Cafe Oto, London on Sunday, May 08.2011. You can read the full pieces by following the links below.
Thanks a lot to Pascal Savy and Scott McMillan for the continuous support!
※ ※ ※
“ … Stephan Mathieu, somehow reconciled the two preceding performances by using both instruments and computer, his shortwave radio set and columbia phonoharp feeding a convolution custom software. Emerging from a nearly religious silence, the miniature horizontal harp slowly filled the room with subtle harmonic layers, Mathieu laying one by one his e-bows over the strings of the period instrument, with extreme precision. The delicate drone hence created, became more abrasive when the shortwave receiver, tuned and detuned by Mathieu throughout the performance, fed his acoustic/digital hybrid system. Music then turned into sound: thick and tridimensional layers washing over the audience, remnants of radio signals muffled underneath rich beds of beating harmonic patterns, giant swells of spectral strings coming in and out of focus. Mathieu positioning and repositioning his e-bows on the phonoharp, as if he was looking to unlock a secret buried centuries ago.
In the past, his music has been compared to the paintings of Mark Rothko, and it is easy to see how soft edges, saturated colours and shapes floating above each other exist in both sets of work. But what was striking during Mathieu’s performance was the sheer physicality of the sound amplified at loud volume and how it enveloped the audience completely, in a similar manner to the way Rothko paintings, with their oversized canvas, absorb the viewer into colours and place them into the experience. While watching Mathieu surrounded by his instruments, creating an otherworldly sonic ecosystem, one couldn’t help thinking that a post-modern alchemist was at work in front of us, transmuting electromagnetic airwaves, acoustic vibrations, silicon computations and past/present technologies into something completely new, almost alien and yet close to the essence of music. Stephan Mathieu finished his set on a beautiful note, the long droning decay of strings interwoven with far-away spectral calls even seems to amaze him – a magical experience.”
Pascal Savy for Fluid Radio
※ ※ ※
“ … Despite all this unconventionality that had gone before, it would perhaps have been the manner of Stephan Mathieu’s performance that would have been most surprising to the uninitiated. Watching him carefully place an e-bow on the string of a harp, stand back with hands on hips, and then eventually return to inch another towards it, he looked more like a man playing himself at chess than someone engaged in a musical performance. And the comparison is apposite: Mathieu’s work is very much based on logic, and a grandmaster’s understanding of age-old rules. One seemingly innocuous move from Mathieu could signal the start of a huge, pre-planned sonic onslaught, strong enough to overcome any known defence. Recent works such as his Virginals performances, and his superb A Static Place album, have dwelled on notions of obsolescence, but that notion perhaps obscures just how alive this music sounds. While completely devoid of such notions as melody and rhythm, it lacked for nothing in terms of resonance and texture. As he added layer upon layer, chiming note upon chiming note, it felt like the whole of Cafe Oto was vibrating in one glorious chord, and the more you listened, the more interesting its miniscule inflections became. As John Cage would have it: there is no noise, only sound.”
Scott McMillan for The Liminal