Margarida Garcia/Mattin
For Permitted Consumption

Mattin’s been releasing recordings at a rate of about two per hour recently and four of them recently alit on my player. Oddly enough, they’re all pretty good. Even excellent.

Half of them feature our intrepid computer feedbackicist in severely quiet mode. One that doesn’t may be my slight favorite, a rollicking duo with bassist Margarida Garcia who herself released several very fine discs last year. “For Permitted Consumption” is a single, relatively brief (33 minutes) piece that’s broken into several fragments, indeed sometimes sounding as though the recording tape was altered with garden shears. Garcia’s electric bass is attacked with abandon, flayed with bow and hammered with fist, creating a wide range of mysterious rumbles, hisses, groans and more. Mattin, as seems to be his habit, is rather more elusive; it’s often difficult to precisely pin down his contributions. But the piece has a rich cinematic quality, a black and white graininess that evokes a slow pan of a dark, industrial interior. While I’m not exactly certain what’s involved with “computer feedback”, there are definitely moments where feedback reigns, underpinned by some marvelously dirty bass scrapings. A nice, tough little album.

He may be issuing recordings at a prodigious rate, but if Mattin can keep churning them out at this high level of quality, bring ‘em on.

Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen


Few musicians are as adept as Basque computer manipulator Mattin at maintaining a delicate balance between near-silent ethereality and abrasive, explosive textures. And this newest recording, with electric double bassist Margarida Garcia, is perhaps the best document yet of Mattin’s mastery of dynamics. The single piece of For Permitted Consumption flows in steady waves from periods of stillness to bursts of harsh, textured feedback, but regardless of the volume at any given point, the recording is anchored by its common depth and complexity. Within Mattin’s waves of crackling noise, there’s a sensitivity that belies their supposedly random genesis. The music has an industrial edge, a cranking ratcheting energy that sounds like raw sparks being generated, or the bare scraping of metal on metal.

The piece starts as a low rumbling, it could be the remnants of bass (though elsewhere Garcia’s contributions are more recognizable) or some signal extracted from Mattin’s machine. But even within this seemingly simple introduction, the rumble is changed, tweaked, and subtle swishes and high-register tweets are introduced until the original rumble is nearly forgotten. Soon, there’s a momentary silence, which hovers unmoving for... how long we can’t be sure. Because then the sound starts up again, so insidiously that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint where silence ends and sound begins. The sizzle of static and the grind of Garcia’s bass (is she scraping the strings? the body of the instrument? tweaking out some quiet pokes of feedback?) rise up out of the silence and at first linger just on the edges of hearing, so soft that they could be figments of the imagination, residual echoes left over from the opening salvo, imagined traces rather than actual objective sound.

Coupled with this disquieting sensation is the expectancy, the sense of waiting that accompanies the disc’s softer moments, the knowledge that this tranquility can be broken at any moment. And that, perhaps, is an ingenious acknowledgement of the computer’s destructive potential in music, music whose very beauty depends on the uglier elements surrounding it. So when Mattin suspends tingling upper-register harmonics, and when that sterile perfection is almost immediately interrupted by glitchy static and howling noise, it’s a perfect juxtaposition of the harsh and the fragile. Garcia, for her part, provides another kind of juxtaposition, that of her mostly subtle, gentle sounds within the matrix of Mattin’s flowing, pulsating feedback. Her rich bass tones only take center-stage a few times in this piece’s half-hour. Despite this, she has a genuine capacity to surprise whenever some break in Mattin’s cascading waves of sound reveals that her warm, metallic playing has been providing an unnoticed but no less powerful undertow. Her playing is restrained, almost pretty, but the sounds she creates with her minimal style have the same industrial edge as Mattin’s digital din.

For Permitted Consumption is the kind of modern improv recording that Mattin (along with a handful of his electronically minded contemporaries) seems to have perfected: a computer-based album that sounds as gritty and organic as a tractor or a bass pluck. Each moment of this disc is richly textured, filled with layers of details and powered by a sense of dynamics that doesn’t leap from loud to soft so much as it unnoticeably and naturally just becomes one or the other (with whole swaths of territory in between). This is powerful, beautiful, and immensely engaging, a record that truly returns more and more on each listen.

Ed Howard, Stylus Magazine


In the past couple of years Basque sound artist Mattin has released a number of spectacular albums, including Gora on TwoThousandAnd, Vault (with Mark Wastell) on his own w.m.o. imprint and, on the same label, the recent magnificent Whitenoise with Radu Malfatti (about which I could wax lyrical again here but as I already did so in the July 2004 Wire I won't repeat myself any more than I already do). Mattin specialises in "computer feedback", which sounds more like market research jargon than instrumental resource, so I'm grateful to him for sending this brief email by way of explanation: "I am very interested in making the most of that which you are dealing with, in my case a computer. My computer has, like many others, an incorporated microphone. What I do is to set it up as a sound source, turn up the volume and feedback is there. Then I use simple EQ. I also use the computer as a simple contact mic, or even as a resonance box (without any short of amplification)". Not quite sure about using the computer as "a resonance box" actually means - though amusing images of him attacking his hardware with assorted sticks and mallets spring to mind - but never mind. What counts is that Mattin's music at its best, like that of those other venerable practitioners of feedback, Otomo Yoshihide and Toshimaru Nakamura, is like walking a tightrope stretched across an active volcano, and thrilling precisely because at any moment it can and often does fall off into the molten lava below.

With Radu Malfatti on Whitenoise, it took an almost superhuman effort on Mattin's part to rein the feedback in (though there is one notable explosion). With bassist Margarida Garcia, the beast is let loose from time to time, probably because the set subsequently entitled For Permitted Consumption was recorded live as part of London-based Resonance FM's Instant Music Radio Meeting series in May last year. Those familiar with the cellular minimalism of Garcia's electric bass work with Sei Miguel might be surprised to hear her growling and snarling like some crazed cross between Darin Gray and Fred Galiay, though she's equally fond of Taku Sugimoto-like twangs, which work surprisingly well with the variety pack of crunches, squeals, hums and yelps Mattin cooks up. With material as intense as this, a little goes a long way, and the 33-minute duration is perfect.

Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic


Just over 33 minutes of ear stinging, brain scathing radiographies by Garcia on electric double bass and Mattin on computer feedback. Complex, refreshing, the noise/sound perfect placing by the pair yields lots of rippling distorted waves alternating with bass frequencies often sounding so underneath, you could probably measure them on the Richter scale. Trying to give a name to this genre of sound deconstruction is an unpronounceable heresy; but - lo and behold - I opened my window in this torrid summer day and everything fitted magnificently with cicadas chanting in the outside fields! Concise and straight faced, there is nothing that could be said against this effort.

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes


Electric double bassist Garcia and computer feedback architect Mattin both share a whisper-to-a-scream aesthetic that makes this live Improv session for resonance FM a hair-raising listen. Moments of calm, poised beauty, such as gorgeous plucked passage from Garcia towards the end, vie with seconds where the fabric of the sound is ripped
apart by scything feedback ho
wls. The real power of the duo's approach, however, lies in the way the eschew all-or-nothing dynamics. There's a constant undertow of danger and instability during the more placid sections, with Mattin's noise squalls erupting from within the calm, and a corresponding sense of the ensuing chaos being reined in, sculpted and shaped into a more manageable form. Garcia's extended instrumental techniques become more prominent as the session progresses, but the drama of the album lies in the tangles and tussles between the pair as they struggle to achieve equilibrium.

Keith Moline, The Wire


Never Give Up On The Margins Of Logic

Diskunion (Japan)

非常階段のジュンコを迎えた"Pinknoise" が大好評!!
バスクのナイス・ガイ、マッッティン(コンピューター・フィードバック)と、クリエイティヴ・ソースからリリースもあるポルトガル出身のマルガリータ・ガ ルシア(エレクトリック・ダブル・ベース) のデュオ作品。荒々しいコンクレート・ノイズと過激なフィードバックが、耳をブチ壊すこと必死のヴァイオレン ス即興!!


For Permitted Consumption

More dispatches from the electro-acoustic edge of the improv equation, appreciation of these two short CDs depends on your acceptance of pure textural sound unprettified with melody, structure or harmony – sound linked to the mechanism only available in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

With hiss and static counting as much as elaborated tones, one of the most mystifying products of the creation is that the five musicians involved in Sakada produce no more extended nor resonant tones than the two players featured on FOR PERMITTED CONSUMPTION.

Featured on one, almost 34-minute improvisation on that disc are Lisbon-based Margarida Garcia, an electric bassist and Barcelona-based computer feedback manipulator Mattin. Garcia plays with many of Lisbon’s progressive improvisers like guitarist Manuel Mota and violist Ernesto Rodrigues, while Mattin’s playing partners have ranged from Austrian trombonist Radu Malfatti to New Zealand guitarist Dean Roberts.

The Catalan also recorded a duet with British cellist/bassist Mark Wastell playing amplified textures and those three plus AMM percussionist Eddie Prévost and Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies play on NEVER GIVE UP ON THE MARGINS OF LOGIC, recorded a few days earlier than the other session. Compact to the extreme, the mini CD’s one track is barely 17½-minutes long. An earlier full-length CD by the band featured only Mattin, Prévost and Rosy Parlane on computer and radio.

Again the sound isn’t that different. Only occasionally among the accelerating hisses and sideband resonation do you pick out the odd stroke of the drummer’s cymbals and single pizzicato plucks from Garcia. Most of the track is made up of swirling interface cut by crackles, scrapes, gong-like ring modulator thumps and a peculiar buzzing intonation, sort of resembling a dental drill coming into contact with your back molars. Among the intermittent buzzes, oscillating flutters sometime increase in vividness, becoming shriller and more regular. In a performance like this, what appears to be the replication of an instrument being moved and a human coughing takes on as much significance as the other timbres.
Nearly double the length, the other CD apparently adds emissions from internal circuitry and periodic silences to the machine-like textures that make up Mattin’s repertoire. There are buzzes, rumbles, circular saw textures and what could be heard as electricity surging into a lathe or a drill bit hits wood or metal. Hard objects appear to buffet even harder objects, turntable approximation rumble, harsh waveforms pulsate, what could be a zipper movement or the reflection of footfalls appears as does breath pushed through a hollow tube and just-below-hearing-range signal shrills.

As on the other CD, a few textures can be linked to Garcia’s electric double bass. These include string resonation that could almost be a melody, a rasping sul ponticello plink and a disconnected whack that either results from hitting the strings with the heel of her hand or banging the instrument’s wooden belly.

Denser in texture than Sakada’s CD, the impression you take away is of looping and panning textures concentrating into a droning interface and climaxing with shrills from the bass amp and Mattin’s computer.

Picking sonorous textures among the overall pulse can be a good test of your appreciation of this improv subgenre. L’innomable is a label based in Slovenia so may be a bit difficult to access. But those truly involved will investigate both these CDs to measure one of contemporary music’s shapes.

-- Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Never: 1. 17:32

Personnel: Never: Rhodri Davies (harp); Margarida Garcia (electric double bass); Eddie Prévost (percussion); Mattin (computer feedback); Mark Wastell (amplified textures)

Track Listing: For: 1. 33.52

Personnel For: Margarida Garcia (electric double bass); Mattin (computer feedback)

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