The wire - issue 221 July 2002
Outer Limits
Reviewed by Ian Pennan
Mattin/ Rosy Parlane
October in the Basque country, laptops on mountain tops, private ritual with headphones, different vectors in different locations, dual interventions processed in real-time, listening to spectral air music, listening as music, sublimely low levels wrenched apart by thunderous scratch, real interruption, what you migth call editure, which questions to what extent ‘resonance’ is produced against historical sup/ position, and how Ambient poetics cannot hope to somehow magically escape it all. Where much post-Cagean ‘field recording’ still a romantic view of landscape, this represents a gritty and persuasive post-modem ‘politics’ of pastoral engagement; a spoiling device for/ against the convenient sonic fiction of the ‘imaginary soundtrack’, which shows nothing and test very little. The hills here are alive with… surveillance cameras and hidden factions. And the sonic valence of Mattin/Rosy Parlane – full marks to them for going beyond cliché, daring to provoke.


                              VITAL WEEKLY
                              number   327
                              week      24
june 2002
Mattin is a composer living in London but with Basque origins.
Together with Rosy Parlane (from Sigma Editions fame) they went on a
tour through the Basque mountains ('Mendietan' is Basque for 'in the
mountains), together with a microphone, computers and a minidisk. The
processed recordings are to be found on this CD, which also contains
texts (by others) and photographs. If you hear the music without
knowing it's background then wouldn't be able to tell. But I believe
that's what this is all about. Only the CD tells the story, the rest
is all fiction. Unlike many other works by Mattin I heard, this is
actually a very refined work. It's less noisy and haphazard then his
previous work, and great care has been placed upon the dynamics of
the pieces. Low end sounds, crackles and hums are presented in a way
that reveals that they have been structuring their pieces. It's all
in a highly dynamic way, going from sheer inaudibility to loud,
almost Merzbowish noise. This goes in the ways of Roel Meelkop, Crawl
Unit or Marc Behrens. Powerful concrete music, presented as poetry.






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Mendietan CD
Rosy Parlane is an artist originally from Auckland, NZ, where a started
his musical career in 1993. He formed the electronic duo Parmentier with
fellow Thela member Dion Workman five years later. Rosy Parlane saw a lot
of the world. He lived in London, Melbourne and Rotterdam. In between
moving he started a label called Sigma Editions together with Workman,
initially as a way of releasing their own music but soon releasing other
Australian and International sound artists as well.
Mattin is a composer living in London but with Basque origins. He is the
person behind the label w.m.o/r.
In October of 2001 Mattin and Rosy Parlane went with laptop computers,
microphones, digital camera, minidisc, and headphones to different
locations in the Basque mountaintops. Improvisation and acting/reacting to
their enviroment. Very avant, a sonic study.
This resulted in 8 tracks in which minimal sounds are the main theme. The
first two tracks are very low key due to sparse bird sounds, some
crackling and a humming in the background. Occasional noise outbursts,
feedback and machine rattling disturb the ambience and the silence of the
tiny sounds. The fourth track heads of rather organic, but some noise
reminding of artists such as Crawl Unit takes over after a while. The end
result is mot as harsh as we know from Mattin, but much noisier as most
Parlane outputs.
Mendietan is Basque for ‘in the mountains’, but it's very difficult to
trace this theme in the music, it's not a typical example of of field
research or field recording. Without visual or aural clue, there barely
can be found a link to the environment. The dynamics of the pieces, the
treated sounds travelling through an imaginetive space, make more than up


Mattin/Rosy Parlane - Mendietan '... went with laptop computers, microphones, digital camera, md and headphones to different mountains in different locations in the Basque country…'
Confronting geometries of technological interfaces with the more obscure and tense geographies of Basque country. Nature and second nature are up for grabs or loosed from their categorical uses and set adrift within a more open frame of reference.
An environment, actors known and unknown, a process (unknown/unverifiable). Should this improvised situation produce a music and that music in turn produce a listener. This listener is liable to examine their situation and might improvise their activity in this chain of production.
It would be good to remember here that collaboration has two meanings. For what in the major cities of the west designates the promiscuous production of cultural goods; music, art, fashion, business projects, a friendship, a conversation…in more contested territories might get you your kneecaps blown off.
The insects clicks brittle as the digital replies. Are we listening here to the groans of prehistoric landscape its sub-sonic movements made audible by (ruined) machines. Did these two operators manage to tease out the rhythm of an ambience or were they working solely with the autistic hum of their machines.
Tearing electricity, dense slabs of feedback, echoes and hush. Hushed hush. The innate silence of a landscape meets the affected silence of two secret agents attempting to encode their secrecy of maneuver and intent.
In the half spun tale of this performance there emerge not only possible narratives : surveillance, kidnap, ambush, lost scientists, but also by inference; fictive musics to which the imagination might be applied. Amidst the confusion of field research, field recording, live/living/real-time performance, these truths, these fictions leak and spoil each other a little. Likewise, the audible sounds traveling through your stereo remaining singular but treated, difficult, harsh. A whole whose co-ordinates are in constant dynamic movement.
Review by Anthony


Mattin / Rosy Parlane
Just the other day I stumbled across some photos on the Internet of Mattin
and Rosy Parlane sitting on stage playing music on their laptops in an
English pub ('12 Bar Club' I think it's called - check the website while Eddie Prevost
sat beside them on percussion duties. Mendietan on the other hand sees the
boys armed with laptops, a digital camera, microphones and headphones hiking
and camping in the mountainous Basque country in northern Spain, their 'aim'
being to record their responses to the environment via improvisation and to
interact with their surroundings via the same media and techniques. The
parameters of the project I think were deliberately vague as they'd have to
be if music improvisation represents the pair's responses and this means
that you the listener have to participate actively in the listening process
to make any sense of the whole project which involved visual and literary
aspects as well, and to decide whether Mendietan is an environmental sound
recording, with all that is implied in the term, or if it does not qualify
at all as such since the duo's response to their environment is heavily
mediated by the technology they used. Heck, but some of Francisco López's
environmental sound recordings turn out to be manipulated according to that
artist's worldview or ideology if you like, more so than Mendietan in a way,
and we accept López's work as legit environmental sound recordings (at least
at TSP we do).
The music itself can be surprisingly atmospheric, particularly on Track 5
where it's like a constant stream of electrically charged ions such as might
occur during a build-up of air pressure before a thunderstorm (correct me if
this is wrong; I'm not a meteorologist), punctuated by sharp crackles of
energy that might be zipping from one cloud to the next. Parts of this CD
remind me of Disinformation's research into electromagnetic or geomagnetic
activity as a sound source. Then you get other tracks where blasts of noise
that'd do a Nipponese noiseician proud are interspersed with periods of
glacial silence, like Merzbow meeting Lasse Marhaug's Nothing but sound from
now on recording or Norwegian black metal at its iciest and most ambient; or
you get Track 7 which features atomised streams of particles crackling like
embers of the campfire late at night ( like that track on Whitehouse's Mummy
and Daddy CD where William Bennett talks normally for once) or insects
rejoicing when the sun goes down. Don't expect the music to 'capture' any
particular flavour or romance of the Basque country, though if the music
moves you emotionally, that's great. (I am very wary of people who expect
music, especially environmental music, to bowl them over like a bowling ball
hitting skittles. Don't these people already have a life?) Some of the
tracks are very dynamic and loud, almost brash, and others are subtle or
tranquil. You are welcome to impose your own interpretation of what
Mendietan might be about or you may even ignore the context in which it was
recorded (that is, forget it has anything to do with Euskal-Herria though if
you have Basque friends they might not appreciate that!) and treat the music
as an independent entity in itself.
While you are thinking about what I have just said, I note that Mendietan is
a self-released recording though if Mattin had sought a more conventional
way of releasing it, he might have found Ash International, Francisco
Lopez's own label or even Mego (if they ever get over their gabba
tendencies) to be his best bets; yes, it's that kind of recording. If you
are keen on any of the labels or artists I mentioned above, get out or get
down and buy this CD and let's all send Mattin and Rosy Parlane on another
camping trip. If we get enough buyers for Mendietan maybe there'll be enough
cash to send the fellas to Majorca or Barcelona for a different kind of
hiking and camping trip and a different environmental sound project ...hmm.