Before I Was Invisible, Matthews/Lericolais, Album, 2015

Reviews:

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

On Before I Was Invisible (SIREN WIRE / WILD SILENCE), Welsh songstress and pianist/composer Susan Matthews teams up with the French visual artist, record collector and musician Rainier Lericolais. This multi-media fellow has hung his work in many French galleries and collaborated with a number of excellent musicians; it seems he’s released over a hundred records, with evocative titles such as Médiumnique Musique and My Song Exaggerated To Dilate Horizontally. He and Matthews have worked together before, for instance on When The Ghosts Are Within These Walls and Homothetique Ricochet, both small-run editions published in 2008 by Matthews on her own Siren Wire Records imprint. Lericolais lends his collage skills to create the cover artworks for this album. They’re a tad conventional, in thrall to Max Ernst, but that’s no bad thing – and they suit the mood of this delicate and enchanting release.

‘The Healer’s Art’ is an extended work of minimal piano trills, gently pulsating electronic tones, and a compelling mood so taut you hardly dare to breathe…occasionally interrupted by fragments of a song delivered in a hesitant voice, a plaintive whine from a woodwind instrument, and distorted found recordings that might be coming from the mouth of a mechanical doll made in the time of Benjamin Franklin. If the plan was to try and pin down the mysterious moods of a dream on tape, much as the surrealists aspired, then the collaboration can be counted a success. Some may scorn its fragile and introverted cheapest kamagra oral jelly uk surface; not me. If you enjoy the somnambulist worlds of Joe Frawley, this eerie broadcast from the night gallery is the one for you.

‘Truth Past the Dare’ is likewise a series of long tones, presented in an unhurried and non-linear fashion…the musicians seem to bring in sounds or musical drones as needed, rather than adhere closely to a schematic plan. Intuition may be a key word here. A beautiful piece to be sure, even if at times it comes close to tipping over into romantic sentimentality.

‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’ is a piece which in title continues the preoccupation with departed souls and vanished friendships, themes alluded to on the earlier 2008 album, and is another highly beguiling work; the voice of Matthews is repeated and overlaid in short, non-logical loop patterns, producing strange overlaps and harmonies, the breathing and short phrases creating a diaphanous mosaic of sound. This translucent veil of vocal music is occasionally bolstered with percussion samples that appear like unexpected supernatural visitors, and the puzzling mood is deepened as the track develops into a quiet and meditative stretch, with very distant and muffled piano music, backwards tapes, and other foreign elements. This piece builds on the dream-like atmosphere established by track 1, and whisks us away further down the pathways of Slumberland towards an oneiric oblivion. We might never wake up again, and we feel excited by the dangerous prospect.
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 22nd May, 2017

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

Troisième collaboration pour Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais qui débutent Before I was invisible en jouant sur la frontière de l’audible. Difficile de ne pas être subjugué par la mise en place étirée de “The Healer’s Art”, jusqu’à l’apparition du piano, deux notes immuables, tintinnabulantes et pures  en surimpression d’une trame faite de brouillages imperceptibles, de drones diffus et de divers incursions instrumentales et numériques.  Comme une liturgie arvopartienne imperceptiblement parasitée par une musique de l’effacement, “The Healer’s Art” dégage au final une ahurissante impression d’harmonie. Difficile dès lors pour les deux morceaux qui suivent d’atteindre les hauteurs proposées par ces 25′ d’état de grâce, mais peu importe, “The Healer’s Art” qui justifie à lui seul l’achat de l’album, peut s’écouter à perpétuité.
Publié par BionicVapourBoy, en morceaux, le 25/09/2016

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

FRIDAY RECOMMENDATION:
“I spent the morning with the third collaboration between french multidisciplinary artist Rainier Lericolais and UK-based musician and labelhead Susan Matthews – another excellent meeting of two musicians expressing their minds and feelings in a well-matched manner. The opener ‘The Healers Art’ with its slowly wavering drones and concrete exotica webbed in spider-like slowness incorporates distant voices and sparse piano, knitted with delicate electronic processings. There is a zen-like attitude over the runtime of 25 minutes, a steady dance into more twisted territories with softly saturated syllables and creaking resonances.

‘Truth Past The Dare’ opens the acoustic field with a rich palette of chamber tones, jarring micromelodies and Susan’s voice reverberated and granulated to a degree the flow of words and timbres recall a soft, fog-like consistence. The editing on the music allows small excerpts to shapeshift into second like jazz requiems to be folded above time and re-arrange according to the electronic effects and layers.

‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’ as the closer, clocking 10 minutes, builds a crescendo of frozen voice parts and densely structured harmonics while unfolding in a slowly rotating brass-like mourner, heralded by Susan’s choirlike appearance manifesting over the lenght of the composition. A unique work – with the focus on emotion and the more melancholic spectrum of the human experiences.”
Thorsten Soltau, May 2016

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

From the superb Wild Silence label (always a guarantee of something beautiful and refined, both musically and in terms of presentation) comes this latest release from Susan Matthews and Rainier Lericolais, their third album together. Hailing from Wales, Matthews is perhaps best known as the creator and director of the independent Siren Wire label and for her experimental yet hugely powerful solo work. She is also a voracious collaborator with other musicians counting, amongst others, Nick Grey, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, Yokna Patofa and now Lericolias within this circle. Rainier himself is known as an artist, performer, director and musician whose work hangs in the Centre Pompidou in Paris and who has previously teamed up with the esteemed likes of Simon Fisher Turner, Stephan Eicher and Sylvain Chauveau. For this recording the pair present three elongated pieces that sit together as a suite of sorts, an electronic requiem for ghosts.

The twenty five minute ‘The Healer’s Art’ begins the album, as a crackle reminiscent of an old phonograph recording bleeds into a crystal pure drone, the sound of scraped and treated strings whistle by in the ether, a profound and melancholic sense of the sacred permeating throughout. The pitch bends eerily, there are ghost like presences in this music; quiet, determined wraiths that are in no hurry to reveal the reason for their return. Lovers of both Coil’s ‘Moon Music’ and ‘Musick To Play In The Dark’ series as well as the windswept, bowed strings of composer Richard Skelton will find much to adore here. Solitary piano notes enter as an electric buzz and hum starts to become apparent. Although solemn and almost hymnal, this music is electric; a charge sparks, clicks and cracks across the piece. Long forgotten voices on an archaic vinyl recording play in the background, muffled but fighting for life as the piece purposefully unfolds and layers, the piano motifs become increasingly more central. Matthews’s voice drifts into view, almost hushed as spooked brass and strings howl out into the void. Finally, warm organ notes blend with violin as Matthews recites what sounds like modern plainsong whilst vintage radio effects and voices seep into the present, spectral visitors from another era. This is an astonishing introduction, both haunted and haunting, a hugely atmospheric ambient work that stays with the listener long after the last note has rung out.

Next, ‘Truth Past The Dare’ reverberates into view, sounds and effects swirling forward and decomposing before us. Electronic glitches melt away and then return, floating into melancholic brass (which reminds this listener of John Cale’s work on Nico’s much underrated ‘Camera Obscura’ album) and Matthews ethereal, stretched vocal harmonies. Otherworldly and unique this is music for liminal spaces, for dusk or dawn; it is delicate and fragile and deserves rapt attention. Harmonium and chimes slowly and carefully enter to create a truly gorgeous mid section before brass and some very Coil-like electronics join for a heartbreaking and moving finale.

The final piece ‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’ begins with gossamer vocals that continuously layer upon each other, some playing backwards and drifting in and out of the speakers amidst a gentle buzz. The work quickly develops a choral and dreamlike quality; imagine the effect My Bloody Valentine achieve with guitars but with vocals instead. Percussion enters and leaves as looped strings and sounds appear quietly in the mix, as if hiding and biding their time. Then, the choir departs, the strings take centre stage and what sounds like a treated cello strides ominously into the mix amongst a whispering of spectral voices. This is a haunted house of a song; beautiful, melancholic, tortured and unsettling.

And then it is over and the listener can only wonder what it is he or she has just experienced and heard. One thing is certain, this is music that connects and affects the listener on a very deep level indeed. It is not ambient music in the sense of being background; when ‘Before I Was Invisible’ is playing you can focus on nothing else. Rainier states that with his work he wishes to grasp the elusive, a fleeting memory or a furtive gesture. I would suggest that with Susan Matthews and this album he has succeeded. This music captures something of a forgotten time, place or feeling; the ghost of a person who once was. Highly recommended.

Available now as a download or as a limited CD in a beautiful gatefold case, made with 100% recycled chipboard with artwork by Rainier Lericolais.
Grey Malkin, The Active Listener, March 2016

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

Here’s a gem from composer/musician Susan Matthews and multidisciplinary artist and musician Rainier Lericolais. “Before I Was Invisible” begins with a slow build-up, firefly feedback flickering over a quiet held chord. Piano enters with a two-chord pattern, followed by singing, trumpet, strings, and found samples of people singing or talking, for example reciting numbers. This piece, ‘The Healer’s Art’, is drifting and dreamlike, yet at the same time weighted with heavy tension, the unsettling sparseness and repetition of an incantation. Instruments appear and disappear like ghosts, yet despite the tense mood there’s also something strangely soothing about it.

Next piece ‘Truth Past The Dare’ brings a calmer, more yearning mood. A shivering synth or guitar chord sequence forms the basis of the track, with Matthews’ voice providing a continuously-pitched two-vowel note, shifting from “aaahhh” to “ooohhh” and back again. Most instruments are performed at low volume to create a sense of instability and precarity, passing from closeness to distance and back again, hovering astride the threshold of perception. The trumpet, though, is allowed to ring out clear and true, a lighthouse in the storm. Vocals are again used in final piece ‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’, this time forming a warm cloud of edited loops. Untuned percussion beats steady, hypnotic rhythms, before a moody stomping synth leads the track down a darker path.

“Before I Was Invisible” deals in dark colours and slow tempos without ever becoming too maudlin or lapsing into gothic cliché. The use of acoustic instruments, voice, and understated electronics and processing creates a strange sense of intimacy — a chamber music that seems at once a relic of bygone times and a powerful contemporary touchstone. Despite the apparent surface simplicity of the music, each sound, phrase, and harmony is perfectly chosen and deftly arranged. Somewhere between the thunder and excess of electronic noise and the dry cerebrality of current orchestral music, Matthews and Lericolais mark out their own beguiling niché.
Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio, 2016

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

La britannique Susan Matthews s’est fait connaître en temps que compositrice d’une musique plutôt expérimentale, voire bruitiste, à la fois puissante et hypnotique. En 2005, elle a fondé la maison de disque indépendante Siren Wire Recordings, qui devient Siren Wire Editions en 2010, un label qui produit artisanalement des artistes expérimentaux du monde entier. Depuis ses débuts, elle participe à des projets multiples. Before I Was Invisible, sorti en octobre 2015, est son troisième disque (les deux premiers parus sur son label) en collaboration avec le français Rainier Lericolais. Cette fois, c’est le micro label fondé par la pianiste et composititrice éclectique Delphine Dora qui les a pris en charge. Nous sommes ici au croisement subtil des musiques électroniques et ambiantes.

Trois titres de durée décroissante pour cet album dont la couverture et le dos de l’emballage cartonné (fabrication locale, assemblage manuel…) donnent le ton par leur étrangeté surréalisante. “The Healers art”, plus de vingt-cinq minutes, nous embarque dans un voyage parasité par un crépitement de fond. Disons-le tout de suite. Le profane ne saurait dire souvent ce qui est produit acoustiquement ou électroniquement. Tout commence par un son tenu, sur lequel viennent glisser d’autres surgissements plus aigus. Puis c’est de l’orgue, des claviers, qui les enveloppent dans une trame ondulante. Les ondes (je pense aux ondes Martenot, aux scies musicales…) s’égratignent, dirait-on, dans les amples oscillations, laissant loin derrière tout paysage connu. Un piano fait son apparition, plaque quelques notes dans ce continuum intense, semble susciter les voix déformées de mannequins perdus au fond des temps. La pièce acquiert une grâce fantastique, comme en lévitation, doucement pulsante. Qu’elle évoque par son titre l’art du guérisseur n’est pas anodin. Un vrai chant très pur, intériorisé, de Susan, sans doute, nous libère des fardeaux quotidiens. Tout se déforme, perd sa matérialité, on reste suspendu à ce léger battement d’un souvenir de guitare. Ce qui se tisse, c’est une toile lente, le filet mystérieux d’une incantation où se prennent les sons, distordus ou pas – on reconnaît un saxophone au passage – comme dans une chambre d’écho aux multiples failles. Il y aurait un violoncelle englouti au fond de l’antre sonore, on serait arrivé au pays où l’on ne meurt plus jamais, porté par un mouvement si doux, une harmonie archangélique. Une splendeur !

“Truth past the dare” sonne d’emblée plus étrange, plus résolument contemporain, expérimental : discontinuité, sorte de gargouillis sonore dont sortent toutefois une clarinette et une voix, celle-ci prenante dans ses aigus tenus, contrastant avec le magma du premier plan. Un piano s’insinue entre les deux, la matière s’aère, la voix domine les volutes embrouillées. La palette orchestrale s’étoffe : un clavier / accordéon installe une respiration, la clarinette réapparaît, d’où un curieux dialogue entre les instruments et les brouillons sonores. Là aussi, l’écriture resserre les liens, assure la cohésion entre le diaphane de la voix et le reste du vaisseau sonore, le tout étant d’une vraiment troublante beauté.

Le fantôme est bien là dans “Your ghost moves with me”, dont le début me fait irrésistiblement penser aux très beaux disques de Tamia chez T Records (par exemple le magnifique Senza Tempo) puis ECM au milieu des années quatre-vingt : la superposition des voix, leur décalage, crée un étrange oratorio rythmé par une percussion sèche obsédante. Nous sommes dans la forêt des voix, émerveillés, frôlés par mille créatures invisibles. Les voix se font plus discrètes, souvent recouvertes par de brusques surgissements énigmatiques, peut-être les geôliers des esprits féminins emprisonnés, rejoints à la fin par quelques voix masculines…
Une magnifique découverte, un très grand disque !
Inactuelles, musiques singulieres, Sept 2016

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