w.m.o/record label
desetxea net label

Tony Conrad/Tim Barnes/Mattin

Celebrate Psi Phenomenon CPSIP-1017

Face-flattening trio generating walls of pure steel drone, puckering shaved-string assault and all-out heavy gravity. Featuring Tony Conrad, Tim Barnes (Tower Recordings et al) and 'anti-copyright' laptop artist and conceptualist Mattin. "Time to dig out that old crash-helmet from the back of the wardrobe to meet the challenge of this head-wrecker. No folks, this recording will not go down in history for its subtlety. The obligatory chair-shuffling intro quickly gives way to the most withering scree-ee-ech and grubby microtonal shudder in a near-Stalinist attempt for total mind control. I can see the audience now... blubbering and gripping the chair in front like some kinda airliner catastrophe! A twenty storey Hoover gobbles the entire North East of the USA... pausing only briefly to empty the bag and replace smoldering fuse wire. Hard, harmful, full of choking dust... toasters are shorted out all over the northern hemispere and cassettes are erased in car stereos. Electricity decides upon a new master and casts off its cumbersome rubber shackles... free and burning... singing hallelujah to the great cosmic soundcheck in the sky." - Campbell Kneale.

Apex online

Tony Conrad / Tim Barnes / Mattin cd (CpsiP) 

Legendary drone-meister Tony Conrad teams up with Mattin and Tim Barnes and unleashes a dense roar of malevolent electronics and tone generators set to stun. Even the lengthy sections of quiet, filled as they are with creaks, burst of malfunctioning electrics and high-pitched whirs do nothing to quell the over-riding sense of ill-ease.

Aquarius Records

The legendary Tony Conrad teams up with some noisy young bucks for an hour of full on, high heaven, upper stratosphere, black cloud, acid rain melting everything in sight into silvery puddles, full bore skree. Recorded live in Buffalo in April 2005, there is nothing subtle about this 60 minute blast. The core is Conrad's near static lazer cannon blast of white hot, high end, which gets gloriously torn to shreds and allowed to crumble into crackling pieces, dropping huge flaming shards of shrieking grind and throbbing crunch on a defenseless audience. There are moments of near ambience too, nothing but spaced out fuzz, and little bits of clatter and scrape, but before too long, another salvo is launched and everything peels away in thick strips of charred flesh, revealing a glowing super nova of sound inside. This is another one of those records, that given a casual listen, is pretty rough, a bit of serious ear torching noise. But strap yourself in, and make it through the first brutal blast, and you'll feel your ears blossoming like flowers in the Springtime, opening up and letting all sorts of sonic subtleties in. Then it's a near transcendental, blissed out ur-drone, albeit, one that is heavily spiked with fiery fragments of ultra distorted shimmer and shriek, and thick slabs of skull rattling rumble. The musical equivalent of listening to a star implode, or better yet an entire galaxy collapsing. Intense!

The Wire (January 2007)

Achbal Al Atlas
Tony Conrad/Tim Barnes/Mattin
Tony Conrad/Tim Barnes/Mattin
Just don¹t call him a Basque primitivist, is all. It¹s tempting to wonder
whether \214dirty laptopper¹ has become a pejorative in the way that \214dirty
bebopper¹ was during the jazz wars. The difference is that Mattin, for all
the dirt and noise that permeates his performances, is a much more subtly
inflected and musicianly performer than most of the current crop of computer
The association with Tim Barnes is a fruitful and well-attested one, two
players of approximately similar aesthetics who are nonetheless different
enough in temperament and approach ­ Mattin the more studied performer,
almost Apollonian, Barnes the baroque subversive ­ to create vortices of
tension in their encounters. The addition of Conrad on the second disc is
difficult to quantify given the apparently undifferentiated weight of sound
that emerges, but I¹d guess that his role is most evident in the non-linear,
sub-minimalist cast of the music, which is all buzzsaw abstraction, slow
movement and stationary form. It¹s an ugly listen, but only at the most
immediate level. Underneath, there are whispered harmonics, clusters of
overtones and \214interference¹. Fiddling with the dials and volume button
yields any number of alternative realisations.
Achbal Al Atlas begins with heavy, almost militaristic drum beats before
crashing into soundblocks that immediately recall the kind of cheerfully
haphazard electronic work the late Stu Martin was deploying in his 1970s duo
with John Surman. Achbal Al Atlas has something of the same mixture of raw
noise and delicate lyricism. There are three tracks on the CD, all of them
apparently carved from something larger, which doesn¹t in any way compromise
a sense of logic and even of development. Barnes¹s role in this is difficult
to judge. He is, though, a supreme collaborator, who seems able to accept
the logic of other artists¹ work and assimilate it into his own, equally
edgy language. In conjunction, they¹ve produced something darkly resonant,
but shot through with lighter sonorities. Those heavy beats are probably
his, though again these three performances are so entirely coherent and of a
piece ­ it isn¹t ³Mattin & Barnes², after all ­ that the separation isn¹t

Paris Transatlantic (Paris Jan. 2007)

Tony Conrad / Tim Barnes / Mattin
Celebrate Psi Phenomenon
Another month, another Mattin album.. (or two – see below). What I like about Mattin is you never know what you're in for – which as far as I'm concerned is, or should be, what improvisation is all about. It's very much a question of hit or miss, and if the last Mattin platter that came my way, Berlin with Axel Dörner (reviewed here last month) was a smash hit, this one is more of a miss. Or should I say less exciting. Less exciting, that is, unless you play it at at FEROCIOUS volume to imagine (as far as possible) what the concert in Conrad's home base Buffalo NY might have sounded like live. Label head honcho and proprietor of the Birchville Cat Motel Campbell Kneale waxes lyrical about it all in his press blurb, but it remains nonetheless an hour of unruly, ugly snarling noise. Conrad's trademark in-yer-face thick drones are replaced by shuddering screes of feedback, and Barnes' contributions on gong and electronics are unceremoniously buried under a layer of nasty gunge from Mattin. Not for the faint-hearted, but judge for yourself: like all of Mattin's albums this is – or soon will be – available for free download from his website. Or you can buy it for a snip at $7 from the CPP site. But I wonder how many times your neighbours will want to listen to it.–DW

Autsaider Magazine (Ukraine, May 2007)

Tony Conrad, Tim Barnes, Mattin
CD, celebrate psi phenomenon, 2006

Американець Тоні Конрад – немолода вже людина, композитор і скрипаль, мінімаліст, любитель шарів звуку, що замовкають нескінченно. Він працював у величезній кількості іменитих колективів і проектів. Прийнято вважати, що він – один з тих, хто зробив американський мінімалізм таким, як ми його знаємо. Тім Барнс теж американець, але достатньо молодий. Більше відомий як перкусіоніст, він насправді торкається різних інструментів. Про нього з повагою відгукуються колеги по сцені, його вважають уважним і серйозним імпровізатором. Баскський музикант Маттін – відомий анархіст і провокатор. Його зазвичай хвалять за повну непередбачуваність перформансів і музики, а лають за надзвичайну прямоту. І ще за те, що він видає по альбому на місяць. Така купа музики дещо нівелює непередбачуваність, і хоч серед них є кілька впливових, плигає вище голови взагалі він нечасто.

Перші кілька хвилин в кадрі тільки постукування і поскрипування Барнса, з якими ледь починає перешіптуватися скрипка Конрада. Ці хвилини налаштовують на увагу, спробу побачити нутро цієї музики і впевненість, що вона буде з нами розмовляти. Але в конструктивну думку, що тільки-но починає формуватися, швидко втручається Маттін, і будь-яка робота припиняється. Він голосно скрипить, і всі потенційні загадки цієї музики тріщать і валяться під натиском нойзу. Маттін не просто дестабілізує систему – він трощить зміст вщент, перетворює систему на анархію, протест. І цей протест залишається головним козирем запису до самого його завершення. Ніякого діалогу між Маттіном і Конрадом / Барнсом не відбувається. Здається, ніби вони просто вставляють свої „п’ять копійок” в загальну кашу „по ходу справи”, безсилі перед стіною маттінового реву.

Втручання Маттіна ставить доволі важливе питання: що ж є більш творчим – уважна робота з формування музичної матерії чи протест проти самого існування цієї матерії (і, взагалі, проти художньої цінності електроакустичної імпровізації в сучасному світі)? Адже цінність такої музики здебільшого в інтелектуальній надбудові над нею, ніж в самій музиці. Колись вона була радикальним різновидом елітарної електроакустики, але за час свого існування встигла перетворитись на цілком традиційне, прозоре для слухача аудіо-явище. Вона більше не дивує, і про неї вже все відомо – як вона з’являється, що відбувається всередині і чому вона виходить саме такою. Традиція, як відомо, – головний ворог аванґарду, бо той завжди дивиться вперед, за межі традицій та всупереч їм. Звідси таке питання: чи є сенс у неприйнятті традиції, якщо воно виражається у цілком традиційний (принаймні, для аванґарду) спосіб – саморуйнування?

Єдине, що на цьому диску „без питань”, так це у вищій мірі уважна робота Барнса. І тому іноді робиться прикро, що анархічні настрої і провокації Маттіна заважають народитися музиці, яка б говорила із слухачем віч-на-віч, вимагаючи його уваги, а не розпиналась би йому в обличчя про свою реакційність. І яка б говорила мовою натяків і ребусів замість може й виправданого, але надто прямого і беззаперечного „анти-”.

Деніс Колокол


Tony Conrad, Tim Barnes, Mattin

CD, celebrate psi phenomenon, 2006

American Tony Conrad is not a young man; he is a composer and violinist, minimalist, lover of sound layers that fade away eternally. He played with a great number of renowned collectives and projects. It’s generally assumed that he is one of those who made the American minimalism as we know it. Tim Barnes is an American too, but a young one. Widely known as a percussionist, he actually lays his fingers on various instruments. Colleague musicians speak respectfully of him; he is regarded as an attentive and serious improviser. Basque artist Mattin is a well-known anarchist and provocateur, he’s usually praised for absolute unexpectedness of his performances and music, and slammed for exceptional directness. He’s also criticized for releasing an album a month. Such heap of music levels unexpectedness a bit. Though there are a few influential records, he rarely jumps high.

During the first several minutes the frame captures only Barnes’ pattering and scraping, Conrad’s violin just starting to murmur to them. These minutes wind one up for getting attentive, for trying to see what’s inside this music and getting assurance that it will speak to us. However, the constructive thought that has just started to shape, is quickly disturbed by Mattin, and all work stops. He’s loudly creaking, and all potential secrets of this music are cracking and falling down before his noise. Mattin does not only destabilize the system – he demolishes the content transforming the system into anarchy, protest. And this protest remains the ace of the recording through its end. No dialogue between Mattin and Conrad / Barnes ever takes place. They seem to simply throw their ingredients into the general kasha as the play advances, forceless before Mattin’s bellow.

Mattin’s intrusion puts forward a rather important question of what is more creative: attentive work of forming up musical texture or protest against the existence of the very texture (and against artistic value of electro-acoustic improvisation in modern world, in general)? As the value of this music is often in its intellectual superstructure, rather then in music itself. It used to be a radical variant of elitist electro-acoustic music, but time has changed it into a completely traditional audio phenomenon transparent for the listener. It doesn’t surprise us anymore, and we know everything about it, how it emerges, what goes inside, and why it comes into being precisely the way it does. As we know, tradition is the main enemy of the avant-garde as the latter always looks forward, beyond and against traditions. Hence is the question: is there any amount of sense in rejecting the tradition if it’s rejected in a completely traditional manner (for the avant-garde, at least) that is self-destruction?

The only thing that is irreproachable on this disc is the most attentive work of Barnes. And that’s why it’s a pity that anarchic sentiments and provocations of Mattin prevent the birth of a music that would speak to the listener tête-à-tête, calling for his attention, and would not demonstrate its reaction in the listener’s face, and that would speak in a tongue of hints and puzzles instead of direct and dogmatic “anti-” however justified it might be.

Denis Kolokol