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Dion Workman / Mattin: S3 CD
The label Antifrost already released an album by this duo in the past
entitled Via vespucci. Now it's time for San Francisco-based Formed
Records to present the next co-operation of these two compelling sound
S3 is an album in which static noise plays the key-role. Some parts sound
like digital rain, whereas other moments remind of distant noise from a
It's the detail that counts here, the minimal ultra high-pitched tones
that have been added from time to time, or the hardly noticeable rumbling
in the background. The music slowly gets more active, as if it's
approaching. And the moment it's gone, one notices what was there.
These two composers play with your perception, presenting something so
fine, minimal and different from other music (sources), that it makes you
start thinking about how one perceives sound and how the brain works in
this process. Extreme intruiging and compelling.

Touching Extremes

DION WORKMAN / MATTIN - S3 (Formed <>)

Completely conceived on Workman and Mattin's laptops, "S3" is one of those albums where you have to think twice before using the term "music", as this stuff sounds more like the silent core of a nuclear reaction, sound particles and hissing noises remaining at the basis of the piece throughout its duration, together with deep silence. The evolution of the single movement on which the record is based is designed with remarkable restraint; many of its mechanisms are barely audible, even when listening by headphones. The abused definition of "human element" is rendered completely useless, since the dynamics of the duo allow no room to interpretation of gestures or translation of codes. It's all there: the faint light of an unidentified object in a dark room, glowing but not enough to help finding the out door; the impressive subdural vibration that ends the album, leaving us in the freezing wind of our ignorance of many acoustic phenomena. Merry melodies have no future. Massimo Ricci


Dion Workman/Mattin - S3

Dion Workman/Mattin
Formed Records

An eely one, to be sure. “S3” is a single piece, 41-minute collaboration that subtly plays with conventions of eai, presenting the listener with a steady-state approach that implies elements that never appear and offers unexpected ones in odd places in the structure. It begins with about 10 minutes of extremely quiet noise. Not only quiet but pitched at the sort of frequencies that are likely to be present in one’s listening room, that is if the computer, lights, heaters, etc. are active and functioning. Personally, my PC’s hum was often co-equal with much of this section, making for a very enjoyable little “dilemma” trying to figure out what, if anything, I was hearing from the disc. Oddly, at other times, I could pick out the joint low burbling and supersonic bat-squeaks with relative ease; maybe it depended which way my head was tilted. After this interval, the volume is upped a notch, “S3” emitting whispery rubbings and ethereal whistles, a somewhat more voluminous rumble beginning to emerge underneath. Just when you think you’ve gotten the arc of the piece down, expecting it to wax into a prolonged eruption, it up and slaps you with only a brief flare, descending back into a low, menacing throb. From this point, about the halfway mark, “S3” sputters and thrums in more erratic fashion, like a cast-aside firework with a dysfunctional fuse. It’s a little disquieting, a little tough (for me) to immediately grasp the structural logic but, at the same time, there’s a basic solidity that makes itself felt, providing just enough tug to tow the listener along. The volume only ever rises to medium levels; the onslaught I imagined coming never really arrives—another very nice non-event. About 30 minutes in, after a soft blast of unique static, the piece reverts to, more or less, the initial state, flickering on the edge of audible distinguishability. For myself, “S3” is the sort of work that, first time through, is very difficult to get my aural arms around but that, on successive listens, reveals more and more about its structure, allowing great appreciation for the placement of sound elements. (Among other things, it makes me want to hear a recording of the Workman/Julien Ottavi set from this last autumn’s ErstQuake fest, wondering if it would reveal more on re-listen). It still retains a kind of gaseous quality and that’s all to the good yet you can begin to detect glimmers of outlines, enough to provide a certain amount of…comfort. It’s a complex project and an excellent one.

Posted by Brian Olewnick on January 3, 2006 03:26 PM

Signal to Noise, n42, 2006, U.S.A.
Jon Dale

"Mattin seek out the extremities of the sound spectrum, revelling in
both the loud abrasions and minute particulars of his laptop. He´s
comfortable in fiery duet with throat noise gargler Junko and he is
with the reduced, poised improvisations of Radu Malfatti; furthermore,
in certain contexts Mattin acts up, pushing his collaborators out of
their comfort zones or needling away at them provocatively. His second
duo release with New Zealand expat Dion Workman, S3, proves what a
good fit the pair is: though the recording doesn´t plough
significantly new or different to their previous encounter, it is an
arresting listen. Both artists are sensitive to both the physical and
intellectual properties of their lexicon: they glide across high-
pitched trills, weave avacuated shudders of white noise into
comparatively rich patches of electronic heat, or allow coalblack low
end-end to roll out of the speakers like a diseased wreath.

number 506
week 52

DION WORKMAN & MATTIN - S3 (CD by Formed.Records)
Both Dion Workman and Mattin belong to the most radical music composers the world has to offer. Mattin for his loud, computerized noise and Workman for his radical sine wave/feedback compositions that are usually quite ear-piercing. This is not the first time that they work together. They released a mini-CD 'Via Vespucci' on Antifrost before (see Vital Weekly 451). You can't blame me, but I had my volume way down, expecting some nuclear noise blast to come from my speakers. I sank back in my chair awaiting what was to come. Waited. Ah the inaudible intro of some time, maybe minutes, before things were to take off. Waited some more. Maybe it is a good idea to crank up the volume just a little bit? It is. It is indeed. The volume goes all the way up on the remote control and even some adjustment on the amplifier. All this fiddling with volume knobs distracted from the music, but was there any music on this CD. Did in the past forty minutes I hear anything? In the second time around, having cranked up the volume all the way up, things become clearer. Workman and Mattin enter the world of Francisco Lopez, using silence to great length but when music arises then it's usually along their own sound palettes - gritty noise, but played softly and feedback, but played softly. There are moments, or rather blocks when this all comes alive and well, before it sinks back into low end hum and then into a sea of silence. Maybe the use of silence of something that is a bit too Lopezian, but Workman and Mattin have done a real fine job in creating something that is equally disturbing as much of their previous work (Mattin's singing and acoustic guitar playing from last week springs to mind), in very much similar extreme areas, but using a 180 degrees opposite working method. It's music you can easily ignore when not paying attention, and if that is your usual listening habit, I'd say don't touch this release. If you are willing to spare it lots of time, then put it on repeat and a reasonable volume for half a day or so. (FdW)

Paris Transatlantic

         /Dion Workman/Mattin

         More inscrutable chilly micro-electronics from Mattin and Dion
         Workman. If you enjoyed their earlier outing /Via Vespucci /on
         Antifrost, you'll probably like this. The first time I
         listened to it was on a Discman on a train coming back from
         Cologne, speeding through the flat, empty countryside of
         Northern France on a pitch black night. In retrospect a pretty
         dumb thing to do, since I had to crank the volume up to the
         max (a dangerous move with a Mattin offering because you never
         know when he's going to let rip with a vicious blast of
         noise), trying in vain to drown out a bloke sitting five rows
         behind me who was negotiating the final details of the
         purchase and refurbishment of an Indian restaurant with
         someone somewhere in Belgium. You have /no idea/ how much I
         hate mobile phones. The second time I tried it, knowing more
         or less what to expect – the 41 minute piece contains no major
         explosions as such, just a slow build-up of low rumble and a
         cloud of ultra high frequency hiss until it starts falling
         apart in stutters and clicks at the 21 minute mark – was on a
         quiet Sunday afternoon at home, but that was spoiled by
         someone a couple of floors above hammering nails into the
         wall. And I don't mean four or five nails, either. I have
         about as much affection for Sunday DIY freaks as I do for
         mobile phones. I tried again two days later but by then the
         real builders were making so much noise in the back courtyard
         of the building I had to abandon the attempt altogether. And
         I'd been listening with headphones. Since then I've managed
         two further playthroughs, one with cans on and one without,
         and have come to the conclusion there's no perfect listening
         environment for this piece at all. I hope you have more luck,
         because it needs your full attention to reveal its cold


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