Mattin "Object of Thought"

total time: 30' 03"

Side A
01) A

Side B
01) B

limited edition: 300
design: lorenzo senni
artwork concept: mattin
release date: 20/12/10
catalog number: P!?016
mastered by R. Becker

"... Is it possible to take self-reflexivity to the point of positive feedback while making a commodity out of my intellect? Can this process help me to understand how I am objectified by capitalism? This is a very difficult question, as I am using English which firstly, is not my mother tongue, and secondly is the language more aligned
with capitalism. To what extent does the use of English language shape my thoughts and actions? If our general intellect is appropriated by capitalism, can we get it back through a process of improvisation with our thoughts? Can my unconscious be my instrument for improvisation?Can we produce our subjectivity through the language that we are improvising with? ... "

"... During the first week of February 2010, from Monday to Friday, I appropriated the usual working times (9 to 5pm) in order to set up a framework and impose some discipline. I went to Alpha Electro-acoustic Studio, Visby, I recorded my thoughts and then began to cut, edit, distort ... as a way of making a montage of my own subjectivity, as a way to dismantle myself. If noise can contain everything it can also contain my lack of articulation. By using my thought processes as material for improvisation and then process them literally, I tried to explore the limitation of the given situation, understanding that at the same time I am objectitfying my thoughts in the vinyl that you are holding in your hands."
(taken from the "Object of Thought" LP front cover)

Object of Thought is part of this show:

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST OF BURDEN is an exhibition of 8 artists from UK, USA, Sweden and Basque Country at Limousine Bull gallery, Aberdeen.
Curated by Dane Sutherland.

Limousine Bull, Aberdeen 20th May - 5th June

The opening night will include a LIVE AKTION by Kylie Minoise, as part of an accompanying off-site installation, which may be visited throughout the week.

The diverse mixture of emerging and internationally established artists are brought together at Limousine Bull gallery in an exhibition that explores the relationship between aesthetic representation and activity. Here, activity encompasses fields such as activism; labour; raw, abstract activity; and the active engagement of the 'viewer'. Can the ugly truth of laborious activity be responsibly translated through a criterion of beauty?


Non-musicology blog:

Mattin's Object of Thought works as an x-ray of the flux of thought. It is the diffraction of an objective perspective through the sickness of our personalizing and objectifying internal thoughts. These thoughts, as the sleeve notes point out, are the material for improvisation. What we hear on this vinyl are recordings of Mattin’s self-objectifying perspective. Nowadays Mattin's interventions and performances almost always dispense from any aesthetic considerations in the production of sounds, feeding the situations with conceptual decisions and the material conditions of the events themselves.

Having this in mind, the first times that we listened to Object of Thought (OOT) we did not get the shock that we were expecting. However, we were surprised by the apparent attention put into audio editing – the “taste” employed while choosing sounds and their timings. We almost understood this as a lack of coherence relative to Mattin’s position regarding such considerations. We were listening to a complex elecroacoustic- concrete poetry  composition with great richness and care put into its realisation. The sounds that come from the vinyl are those of “quality” – this was something that we were not able to fully understand in relation to our expectations of Mattin’s album.

All this aesthetic content, along with the fragmentation and the superimposition of voices in an unfamiliar language, made it difficult for us to explore the questions that the record is manifesting.

In Mattin / Taku Unami’s CD Attention their questions activate themselves in an immediate manner –and their intentions are explicit and crude – but Object of Thought needs a different type of implication for hearing in order for one to become conscious of the challenge. To dismantle the aesthetic chokehold requires one to consider this process as an expression of the attempt to do a voice “evacuation”.

In the editorial introduction of Nick Land's book Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007, the editors Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier analyze some of the aspects of Land's text 'KatasoniX'. We find this helpful for the analysis of OOT, specifically with regards to Mattin’s attempt at “evacuation”. To detail the performative evacuation of the voice, we quote at length:
As Nietzsche suggested, the structure and usage of the human body is the root source of the system of neurotic afflictions co-extensive with human existence; but bipedalism, erect posture, forward facing vision, the cranial verticalisation of the human face, the laryngeal constriction of the voice, are themselves all indices of a succession of geotraumatic catastrophes separating the material potencies of the body from its stratified actuality. Just as the bipedal head impedes 'vertebro-perceptual linearity', the human larynx inhibits 'virtual speech'. One cannot dismantle the face [the material representation of capitalism] without also evacuation the voice. Since in geotramuatic terms, the human voice itself is-via the various accidents of hominid evolution- the expression of geotrauma, 'stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electrodigital voice synthesis are […] laden with biopolitical intensity – they threaten to bypass the anthropostructual head-smash that establishes our indentity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.
Texts such as 'KataconiX' accordingly attempt a performative evacuation of the voice, disintegrating semantics into intensive sequence (notably through the use of extracts from Artaud's notebooks, where 'poetry' slides into delirious combinatorics). One of the tasks of schizoanalysis has now become the decrypting of the 'tics' bequeathed to the human frame by the geotraumatics catastrophe, and 'KatatxoniX' treats vestigal semantic content as a mere vehicle for code 'from the outside': the 'tic' symptoms of geotraumatism manifested in the shape of sub-linguistic clickings and hissings. Already disintegrated into the number-names of a hyperpagan pantheon, syncretically drawing on the occult, nursery rhyme, anthropology, sf, Lovecraft, among other sources, the 'subterranean' current of impressions, correspondences, and analogies' (Artaud) beneath language is now allowed uninhibited (but rigorously-prepared) development, in an effort to corporeally de-engineer the organicity of logos. [1]
To follow the deformations of the voice and the way it might be camouflaged with the noise between the vinyl and the needle – the alterations of pitch – is to perceive how gender may be destroyed by the dilatation of tone. The vocal range is the measure of the amplitude in which the records of the human voice might be realized by the process of phonation.

The alteration of Mattin’s vocal pitch and tone on OOT is a transgender play that we mightn't overlook. Mattin’s digital editing may be similar to the vocal cord surgery that some transsexuals might consider undergoing in order to change the tone of their voice. The transsexual woman that reaches puberty as man usually develops a vocal resister that is characteristic of a "man". Hormonal therapy may not change the voice of a transsexual woman once they have "masculinized". For that reason, the transwoman with intentions of becoming a woman might need vocal training or otherwise surgery in order to feminize their voice. Object of Thought displays Mattin’s non-surgical play with the full ensemble of vocal registers of the transgender.

In an interview for The Wire magazine, the dubstep musician Burial said about his track ‘Archangel’:
B: I like pitching down female vocals so they sound male, and pitching up male vocals so they sound like a girl singing. It can sound sexy as fuck.
W: That works. When I listen to the record, I can’t work out whether the vocals belong to males or females. And angels aren’t supposed to have gender.[2]
In Object of Thought we don't hear angels singing; the voices comes from Genderqueers.

Formant frequencies for male, female, and male-to-female transgender speakers.

While listening to this record we were reminded of concepts developed by German philosopher of mind Thomas Metzinger. In his book Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, Metzinger questions “conscious experience”. The book analyses first-person reports of a (sub) class of spontaneously emerging neurological phenomena known as out-of-body experiences (OBE). We find several points in common with Mattin's process in OOT (the materialization of his thoughts and subjectivity in/on the vinyl) and Metzinger’s analysis of the first OBE (sub) model. According to Metzinger, this constituent component-object (here is where we see the link with the material object of OOT) is a representation of the corporeal self from an external visual perspective (or, in the case of OOT, sonic) that does not function as the centre of the global model of reality.

An OBE is non-parapsychologically perceived as one’s body is laying down on a bed, path or surface without distortion or overdrive. Relatively, Object of Thought is not just about spatial self-representation and cognitive self-reference materially expressed on the vinyl, but also an attempt at subjective depersonalisation.

Kinematics of the phenomenal body image during OBE onset

Listening to OOT is an exercise of uncovering the work, a dissection of subjectivity; our game is the same played by Mattin when he is objectifying his thoughts. Is not about perceiving the construction of the object through a sick mannerism. On the contrary, it is about dismantling the process of objectivation: the dismantling of subjectivity through the evacuation of the voice. After some time, we found that it was no longer necessary to ignore the recording’s formal considerations in order to pay full attention to its content: the knot between noise – as chaos and intelligibility – and the noise of objectified thoughts.
The possibility of being assaulted by unexpected harsh noise holds our attention throughout the whole listening experience, but – as with Mattin's solo previous work like Proletarian of Noise or Broken Subject – this noise is beyond an ethics of volume. We will not find a passage where an abysmal noise gets unleashed.

The challenge is to maintain the cord taught, as tight as possible, transforming the intellect in a commodity, while at the same time trying to understand how we are objectified through capitalism.
Perhaps OOT is a schizoid game, rigged with a traps disabling escape from the “inside”, hiding the cracks whereby we might eventuate. In any case, OOT leaves us a carbon copy of subjectivity for analysis. Object of Thought is an object/process of depersonalisation with traces of impact. About these craters we can find a conceptual and epistemological approximation to the reality of the record.

Mattin's identity is digitally processed while his subjectivity becomes abstract matter. The logos becomes numbers:
That's why stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electrodigital voice synthesis are so laden with bipolitical intensity-they threaten to bypass the anthropostrucural head-smash that establishes our identity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.[1]
If we take the idea of geotrauma, which refuses the distinction between biology, geology, linguistics and numeracy, we can see how the depersonalisation process on this record is pushed a step further by Mattin’s conscious objectification of his thoughts onto the materiality of the vinyl.

In OOT Mattin's unconscious goes from the organic to the inorganic, passing through digital 0s and 1s. Through this process, Mattin's thoughts – his ego with neuroses and pathologies – are put into the Poly-Vinyl-Chloride (CH2-CHCl)n, which itself has been going through traumatic inorganic tensions arising from archaic xenocatastrophes. Anthropocentricality becomes more and more redundant in OOT: the evacuation of the voice, its consequent digitalisation and its fabrication into the LP mixes biopolitcs with numeracy and geology.

The dehierarchisation process occurring in OOT is at least triple:
  1. Thinking is multiplied by its insecurities and doubts: we can hear that tics and stuttering are at the same level as the “better articulated” thoughts.
  2. The evacuation of the voice is translated via digital processing (numbers) which are cut throughout the record.
  3. Finally these sounds are pressed into the vinyl, but the “silences” allow that one can hear the material qualities of the vinyl itself
In conclusion, it is our opinion that Mattin’s Object of Thought is as sonically refined as Whitenoise (with Radu Malfatti), and as conceptually intense as Attention (with Taku Unami). Object of Thought is Mattin’s most complex release to date.

August 2011

[1] Nick Land, Fanged Noumena, Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2011, p. 502
[2] The Wire, Issue #286 (Dec 07) | In Writing by: Mark Fisher | Featuring: Burial

URSONATE Nº 002 (Madrid)

Object of Thought (OOT) funciona como una radiografía del flujo del pensamiento. Es la conquista de una perspectiva objetiva sobre lo enfermizo del pensamiento interno, ese pensamiento personalizador y subjetivante.

Lo que escuchamos en la grabación es la voz de Mattin, objetivando sus pensamientos en el vinilo. Esos pensamientos, que como se señala en las notas de la portada, son el material de la propia improvisación. Con las primeras escuchas que le dediqué al disco no recibí el shock que esperaba.

Casi en su totalidad, las intervenciones y performances de Mattin en la actualidad prescinden de cualquier consideración estética en la producción de sonidos, alimentando las situaciones de decisiones conceptuales y de las condiciones mismas de esos eventos. Teniendo esto en mente, me sorprendió la atención prestada a la edición del audio, el “gusto” a la hora de escoger los sonidos y su disposición en el tiempo, casi lo entendía como una incoherencia con respecto a su posición ante estas cuestiones. Estaba escuchando una pieza que juega con la electroacústica, la música y poesía concreta, y que tiene una construcción formalmente compleja y con una gran riqueza en su elaboración. El sonido que sale del vinilo es un sonido de “calidad” y era algo que no acababa de encajar con mis expectativas sobre el disco. Todo este contenido estético, junto con la fragmentación y superposición de voces en un idioma que no es el mío propio, me dificultaba profundizar en las cuestiones que el disco pone de manifiesto. En “Attention” las cuestiones se activan de manera inmediata, es explícito y crudo con sus intenciones, pero Object of Thought necesita una implicación diferente en la escucha para tomar conciencia del desafío. Desmantelar el embozo estético requiere el tiempo que es preciso para concebir este proceso como expresión del intento de “evacuación” de la voz.

En la introducción editorial del libro Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 de Nick Land, se analizan ciertos aspectos del texto de Land, “KatasoniX”. Encuentro de ayuda para el análisis de OOT y, en concreto, este intento de “evacuación”, recurrir a lo escrito en este ensayo sobre la evacuación performativa de la voz:

[…] Uno no puede desmantelar la cara (la representación material capitalista de la subjetividad) sin evacuar también la voz […]

[…]“KatasoniX” (del mismo modo que OOT) en consecuencia intenta una evacuación performativa de la voz, la desintegración semántica en una secuencia [...]. Una de las tareas del esquizoanálisis se ha convertido en tratar de descifrar la catástrofe geotraumatica1 y KatasoniX trata el vestigial contenido semántico como un mero vehículo para el cifrado de lo "desde afuera": el "tic" sintomático del geotraumatismo1 manifestado en la forma sub-lingüística de chasquidos y silbidos (que podemos escuchar en la voz de Mattin a lo largo de todo el disco) […]

Recorrer las deformaciones de la voz, cómo estas se camuflan con el ruido como roces entre el disco y la aguja, las alteraciones en su altura, se trata también de percibir cómo el género es destruido por dilatación del tono.

El rango vocal es la medida de amplitud de los campos que la voz humana puede llevar a cabo en el proceso de fonación. La alteración de la altura y el tono de Mattin en su voz es un juego transgenérico que no debe ser pasado por alto. Esta edición digital de la voz es similar a la cirugía que ciertos transexuales consideran realizar en sus cuerdas vocales para cambiar su tono. Las mujeres transexuales que llegan a la pubertad como hombres, usualmente se desarrollan entre los registros de voz característicos de los hombres. La terapia hormonal no altera la voz de una mujer transexual una vez que se ha masculinizado, por lo tanto, las mujeres trans que tienen la intención de hacerse pasar por mujeres necesitan tener ayuda con el entrenamiento vocal o bien optar por la cirugía para feminizar su voz. Mattin juega, por tanto, en todos los registros vocales del transgénero.

En una entrevista para la revista The Wire, el músico de Dubstep Burial dijo sobre su tema ‘Archangel’:

Me gusta bajar el tono de las voces femeninas para que el sonido sea masculino y pitcheo hasta voces masculinas para que suene como el canto de una joven.

The Wire: Eso funciona. Cuando escucho el disco, no puedo averiguar si las voces pertenecen a hombres o mujeres. Y los ángeles no se supone que tengan género.2

En OOT no cantan ángeles; la voz proviene de Genderqueers.

Formant frequencies for male, female, and male-to-female transgender speakers.

Durante las escuchas del disco, también me vino a la cabeza continuamente las ideas del filósofo de la mente Thomas Metzinger. En su libro Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity debate en torno al llamado problema de la "experiencia consciente". Se analizan reportes en primera persona de una (sub)clase de fenómenos de base neurológica que advienen espontáneamente o en circunstancias extremas a ciertos sujetos (en principio, a cualquier ser humano), y que se ha dado en conocer actualmente como Experiencias-Fuera-del-Cuerpo (OBEs, por sus siglas en inglés). Encuentro varios puntos en común en el proceso de Mattin en OOT (de materialización de sus pensamientos y subjetividad en el vinilo) y los análisis de Metzinger sobre el primer [sub]modelo de las OBEs. Según Metzinger, este constituye el componente – objeto (aquí es donde veo el vínculo con el objeto material de OOT), es una representación más o menos verídica del propio ser corporal desde una perspectiva visual externa, que no funciona como el centro del modelo global de realidad. Es percibido fenomenológicamente como el propio cuerpo tendido en una cama, camino o superficie, sin mayor distorsión.

Por lo tanto, el trabajo de Mattin no se trata ya sólo de la autorrepresentación espacial y la autorreferencia cognitiva plasmada materialmente sobre el vinilo, sino de un intento de despersonalización subjetiva.

Kinematics of the phenomenal body image during OBE onset

La escucha de OOT se trata de un ejercicio de decapamiento de la obra, de disección de la subjetividad; nuestro juego es el mismo hecho por Mattin al objetivar sus pensamientos. No se trata de percibir la construcción del objeto a través de un manierismo enfermizo, sino de desmantelarlo a través de ese proceso de objetivación del desmantelamiento de la subjetividad evacuada a través de la voz. Con el tiempo, encontré que ya no era preciso mantener al margen las consideraciones formales de la grabación para prestar atención a su contenido. Su contenido es el vínculo entre el ruido -como caos e ininteligibilidad- y el propio ruido de sus pensamientos objetivados.

La posibilidad de que irrumpa un conjunto de frecuencias dañinas para nuestros oídos, sostiene nuestra tensión durante toda la escucha, pero como en sus previos trabajos en solitario como “Proletarian of Noise” o “Broken Subject”, este es el ruido que se encuentra más allá de la ética del volumen. No encontraremos un pasaje donde se desate un ruido abisal. El juego se trata de mantener la cuerda tensa, lo más tensa posible, de trasformar el propio intelecto en mercancía y, a su vez, tratar de entender cómo somos objetivados a través del capitalismo. Quizás se trate de un juego esquizoide, con la trampa de no ser capaz de escapar del “adentro”, de no poder encontrar la grieta para evacuarnos, pero en cualquier caso, OOT nos deja una copia carbón de la subjetividad para el análisis. Un objeto/proceso de despersonalización con huellas de impacto, donde poder buscar una aproximación a su realidad conceptual y epistemológica.

Recapitulando, en mi opinión se trata de su disco más refinado junto con el dúo con Radu Malfatti, Whitenoise, el de mayor intensidad conceptual, también junto con Attention (en colaboración con Taku Unami) y, sin duda, el más complejo de su discografía hasta la fecha.



Agosto 2011

1Me resulta imposible explicar aquí con brevedad y rigor el concepto de Geotrauma, por eso recomiendo el visionado del vídeo: A Brief History of Geotrauma or: The Invention of Negarestani, disponible aquí:

2The Wire, Issue #286 (Dec 07) | In Writing By: Mark Fisher | Featuring: Burial

Bad Alchemy (Germany)

MATTIN Object of Thought (Presto!?, P!?016, LP): Mattin leistet
Denkarbeit, als selbstreflektiver dialektischer Materialist. Sein
Material sind Geräusche und Sprache, hörbar gemacht als Schweigen, das
sich hüllt in aleatorische Plops und im Stereoraum zuckende Krakel.
Entstanden in 9 to 5-Sessions, wie die meiste Arbeit, wird erst
allmählich Sprache als das Ausgangsmaterial erkenntlich, ist sie doch
reduziert auf stottrige Impulse und Kürzestkürzel. Mattin argumentiert
nicht, er sucht den direkten Weg ins Hirn, durch Injektionen von
Noise. Erst nach 10 Minuten werden erste Wörter verständlich, halbe
und erste ganze Sätze, die sich überlagern, zu Geflüster reduziert,
gestaucht, gezerrt, umgestülpt, von scharfen Geräuschen weggestrahlt,
ausgeätzt. Die B-Seite beginnt mit aggressiven Noiseschüben,
Breitwandstörungen, Verzerrungen, brachialem Sandstrahlbeschuss,
säurehaltigem Gebrodel. Der Geist war bei Hegel ein Knochen. Hier ist
er Mehl aus einer Knochenmühle, massiv gestörte Radiofrequenz,
schmerzhafter Impuls. Die Plops des Anfangs kehren wieder, auch das
Schweigen. Mattin macht daran seine Widersprüche fest: Improvisation
vs. Dogma, widerspenstige Stupidität vs. dienstbarer Intellekt,
kritisches Denken vs. Metaphysik, Heterogenität vs. Knowledge,
Dezision vs. Kompromiss. Und er wirft Fragen auf - abgedruckt auf dem
Cover - und mit dieser Doppelstrategie der Verschriftung weitere
Fragen: Wie verändert die englische Sprache sein Denken? Wieweit macht
er seine Denkprozesse zur Ware? Bietet Improvisation einen Zugang zu
einem noch nicht kapitalistisch zugerichteten Selbst? Woraus speist
sich Improvisation? Ist Noise ein Botschafter des Unkontrollierten?
Wie gehen Konzept und Improvisation zusammen? Welche Art von
Performanz ist notwendig, damit Kapitalismus und Nihilismus von Innen
heraus überwunden werden können? [ba 68 rbd]

The Watchful Ear (Richard Pinnell)

Monday 4th April

4 April 2011 No Comment

So a new solo album from Mattin. On vinyl. What’s more, this one took an awful lot of effort to penetrate, and if the sleevenotes are to be believed (and I think they should be) Mattin put a lot of effort into its creation. Object of Thought is released on the Presto label, a handsome piece of vinyl housed in a sleeve that is literally smothered in some of the most dense, hard to read (in more ways than one) text I have ever witnessed on an album cover. In recent years, while Mattin’s public profile has been written for him as just some kind of playful, troublemaking provocateur, he has actually been entrenching himself deeply in modern philosophy, and the texts on the sleeve (which I won’t pretend to fully understand, but it won’t be a surprise that there is a strong anti-capitalist, anti-materialist slant to them) reflect these interests, to the point that it becomes difficult to know whether this album carries more value as a piece of writing with an attached sound recording, or vice versa. The texts are also printed in faint text at strange angles, which makes the writing physically hard to read as well as mentally. To completely understand what Mattin has to say here then, takes a great deal of effort and a knowledge of philosophy above and beyond my own.

So, allowing for the fact that I struggle to pick up on all of the details, Object of Thought would appear to be, literally, an exercise that utilises the methods and systems that objectify the thoughts of the artist, the systems that capitalism uses to create a marketable product from a creative human being. To begin with, he spent a week in a studio, obeying strict 9-5 office hours. In this time he recorded his thoughts as speech, which he then set about shaping and sculpting into the piece of music found on the album. He spoke in English, which isn’t his first language, but is the language most commonly associated with capitalism. The final product has then been released on vinyl rather than CD or free download, perhaps the most objectified of all recording formats.

You could be forgiven then for not being too concerned about how the music actually sounds. Clearly the concept of the recording and its subsequent release is what really mattered to Mattin. He mentions that he took apart his spoken parts and reassembled them, as “a way of making a montage of my subjectivity, – as a way to dismantle myself” and while I must say that I don’t fully understand how doing this can really be anything more than a passing commentary on capitalism whilst self-consciously obeying its rules, there is a certainly a lot of thought behind this release, and at its core lie worthwhile ideals. It seems as if Mattin here is accepting that he has to make concessions to capitalism if he wants to release music to an audience in the traditional manner, but as he does so, and by actually placing himself in the role of the 9-5 wage slave, he seems to attempt to create something that comments strongly on these systems, pointing out, in a somewhat oblique manner the acute failings of this approach.

The thing is though (and I imagine Mattin will groan audibly to read this) the end result is actually really good. The starting point for the music is a series of muttered spoken parts that seem to be Mattin asking himself questions, commenting on the overall process. These are then treated and cut up, sped up, twisted about, overlaid and mixed into little grabs of noise and distortion that are spaced apart by longish silences. Only here and there are the words easy to comprehend, often they become completely impossible to decipher, and the rest of the time they need a careful ear to pick them out. Musically then, simply as a piece of sculpted sound, Object of Thought is very enticing. Its full of harsh sharp corners, surprises and blasts at your attention span, and I played the disc often, enjoying the work as a composition as much as anything. Things skitter about, words appear and disappear, murky, unintelligible sections are suddenly cut open with clear, precise questions, or maybe a blast of skittering digital abrasion. It actually sounds really great, if not exactly easy listening. So was the point to create something actually quite musically appealing, if still very difficult and unsettling? Was the idea to create a piece of modern, abrasive musique concrete and then house it on vinyl so as to take Mattin’s stream of thoughts and build it into something entirely material, an object of thought? If so, what is there for anyone to gain from this? Is this just a self-conscious exercise for Mattin, a personal challenge in the style of so many inward-looking artistic gestures, or something we should all engage with, and turn the same mirror back on ourselves as we hold this handsome object in our hands?

All of Mattin’s recent work has set out to cause the listener to question what it is they are listening to, and to highlight in some way the role of the music, musician and listener in materialistic society. Previously though, with the exception of perhaps last year’s Idioms and Idiots release, the ideas and concepts used to do this have been quite simple in their structure, basic questions that have been either highlighted as important and interesting or cast aside as trivial troublemaking. With Object of Thought though Mattin has produced something that invites a lot of thought and consideration. This isn’t a simplistic statement made in an overtly grand manner, as has his work has been accused of being in the past. It can be taken in various ways, and dependant on your ability or inclination to engage in the dense wordiness of the sleeve texts can be responded to on many levels. I personally found the actual music interesting, not only as a piece of quite challenging yet engaging audio but as a catalyst for so many questions linking back to how and why it was made, and how it was subsequently released to the public. The one thing that this certainly isn’t is something trivial to be dismissed with a few lines about enfant terribles. This is a work of mature thinking by one of the most genuine people I know that is designed to cause people to think about what they do, just as Mattin seems to have thought about his own actions here.


“the mutual incompatibility, real or apparent, of two laws.”

Some words about Mattin’s new LP, ‘Object of thought’. Neil Simpson

You can listen to an extract here.

The investment in the ‘I’ is very difficult to sustain, in part because it constitutes a kind of shifting signifier. Whenever I see the word I in an autobiography I almost think that the book is actually telling us how the book itself came into existence not about the life of the author who wrote it.” Christian Bök –

As a result of attending his performance at Instal late last year, I recently sent Mattin an email recently to ask how I could go about obtaining a copy of his new LP, ‘Object of Thought’. I couldn’t find a UK distributor and he kindly pointed me in the right direction. He also asked me if I would be happy to let him know what I thought of the LP. I agreed and asked if he would write a response to my thoughts so that I could include both on Long+Wrong. I’m delighted to say that he also agreed. Little did I know how difficult I would find it to write about.

The main source of this difficulty is the effort that Mattin has already put in to providing a critical framework for the sounds on the record. The sleeve contains three short, but dense, texts in which he provides some justifications, explanations and details about how and why he made the record. These texts are complicated and, at times, refer to philosophical ideas with which I’m not familiar (e.g. “Thus understood as cause in-the-last-instance of thought, radical performativity completes dismantling it [sic] antinomic pairing with the “constantive” function of language”)

How then do I go about writing about this record? Do I ignore the texts and focus on the sound making process and its results? Given the effort that has gone into the texts, their prominence on the sleeve, and their apparent close relation to the way in which the sounds on the record were made, this seems inadequate. Do I try to engage with ideas that I’m not in a position to be able to fully understand, never mind critique? I can’t see the value in this either. Who needs to read some inadequate analysis?

So what do I do? How do I write about something that I don’t feel capable of writing about? Why do I need to feel capable? Why can’t I just write an accept what I write? I guess my idea of myself and the image that I am hoping to portray via this blog will not allow it. Has Mattin written these texts in the hope that , ok no more editing from now on, no more revisions, just what comes into my mind. Has mattin written these texts in the hope that people who buy the record will understand them? or has he written them knowing that almost everyone who encounters it will struggle with them? Is he trying to make me feel inadequate? I am I doing that to myself? Should I even be thinking about writing about this record, after all, it’s difficult to think of it as entertainment, or as something that is intended to be aesthetically enjoyable. It’s difficult in many ways. The sounds are difficult to listen to. There are many hard edits, harsh sounds, distorted words. The words make it difficult to listen to the noises and the noises make it difficult to listen to the words. The text is difficult to understand and the way it is laid out is difficult to read. Is that noise? Is it all an array of deliberate disruptions that’s intended to frustrate at every turn?

Why did I even think that I could write about it? I knew that Mattin’s work is very philosophical and conceptual. Am I trying to prove something? What have I proved? That, in this case, I’ve been too ambitious? I guess this has moved from ambitious to indulgent. Why do I think I have anything to say about music? Is this entertainment? Are you reading this at work, on the bus, passing the time while you wait for something else to happen? Is this what Mattin had in mind when he made the record? That his attempt to use recordings of himself speaking aloud without a script, which he would subsequently cut, edit, distort, fragment and layer, would result in what appears to be a rather selfish rant about my own thoughts about what I’m doing?

I guess ultimately, what I’m trying to do here, is the same thing that I think Mattin has indicated he’s trying to do on the record. To find some way of figuring out what constraints are operating when we act, think and feel. These constraints are not obvious, chances are they are subliminal or subconscious or just so familiar that we don’t even notice them any more. How much of my sense of self is learned? How much control over it do I have? How can I see past who I think I am?
How do I even know what questions to ask when I’m questioning the I that asks the questions?

Vital Weekly 767

Art as sound can engage thought in a struggle for survival of the human species, the impact of this in Mattins’s work -here- processed soliloquies, is becoming yet more transparent. The materialism of thought and its relationship to capitalism is a response to something even more profound. Capitalism is a system, whether contingent or not and one even in the historicy of Marxism began with and is situated in agriculture. Agri culture here as agri, the beginning of culture and so a certain cultivation of the idea, its settling in a fixed point in both space and time, its finity, its fixation, psychosis, and its objectification of truth… objectification of thought, objectification of sound…  philosophy with is cultured thought is always at war with the nomadicism of life, or the real, just as music is a violence against noise, (non music) which here both the seeming nomadicity of thought, (only an hallucination!) as speech, is in confrontation with the real. Both protagonists, the farmer and the nomad can be as simplistic as the farmer and the cowman, such as the objectification of capitalism for Mattin, the object of thought deals with some difficult problematics, improvisation, and capitalization, the manipulation of thought, its attempt at the radical real and its comodification in the work ethic, one which is governed by synthetic time, material – mechanical time and not the real radical time. The non-time of improvisation is replaced by the abstract time of thought, of history and of course both the western dialectics and the wild west’s de nomadification as successive waves of colonization of a land still called free, or of the free. The image of thought is attacked by the “Red”-Indians! i.e. Capitalism is attacked by the nomad.  This recording is of thoughts which like the well known wagon train is forced on a circular defense of the radical real. All ideas revolve defensibility against the nomad, and as this record revolves, in speed and time,
of mechanical time its very physicality, its analoguality allows nomadic infringements. This is not so much an object, but a scene from the war of the farmer against the nomad, the next skirmish after territorialization in the end of both music and philosophy. (jliat)

Paris Transatlantic ( September 2011)

Mattin, as anyone who's been following his career will know already, always makes sure that whatever he releases is also available for free download, and indeed that's how I've managed to get hold of this one while I wait to get my paws on the real thing, which is a gorgeous object in its own right. As he made abundantly clear in his PT interview last year, Mattin these days seems to be more interested in the ideas behind music – its social, political and philosophical implications – than he is in what it actually sounds like. That's a shame if, like me, you're a boring old fart who still believes in old-fashioned notions of musical form and content, and music's power to move the listener in ways s/he can't explain (bourgeois mystification? you betcha), but it hasn't stopped me from listening carefully to, and usually enjoying, any Mattin offering that comes my way.
The principal sound source for the 30-minute Object of Thought is Mattin himself, holding forth on as is his wont on the subjects dear to his heart: language, noise and improvisation itself, though he rarely gets to the end of a sentence before being interrupted by another layer of text (sometimes whispered, sometimes filtered or treated almost beyond recognition) or a blast of noise, presumably from his trademark computer feedback. As such it has much in common sonically with 2009's monumental six-hour Feedback Conceptual. It's clear that a lot of work has gone into this (one wonders if he sketched out the mixing process in advance and kept a copy of his notes – presumably not, as that would make it a composition, but I'm curious), and the result is probably the most attractive and – he might hate me for saying this – musical Mattin release of the past half dozen years.
Though that certainly matters to me, I wonder if that matters to him. If the raison d'être of this disc is simply to get the listener to call into question his/her assumptions about music, I would say his 2007 release with Taku Unami, Attention, did the job much better, irritating beyond belief though I found it. But apparently, judging from one of the reviews I've read recently, it's not even about music anymore but something called non-music, Mattin's latest intellectual punching ball / punch bowl, in homage presumably to François Laruelle's concept of non-philosophy. Now, having spent at least 40 of my 48 years trying to figure out what is or isn't music, I seriously doubt I'll be able to get my head around the concept of non-music before I die, but I dare say I'll return to this album from time to time and find much to enjoy. That'll be my guilty, boorish pleasure.–DW

The Sound Projector (UK, September 2011)

Cyclic Defrost

An Australian magazine focusing on interesting musicMattin – Objects of Thought (Presto Records)

By innerversitysound February 16, 2011

The notes on this album are a quite something, it reads as a primer to postmodern theory with a specific Hegelian/Marxist bent. It contains such gems as “Noise is the spectacle eating itself in an act of self-cannibalism” and “the theorist says: I am a moral bomb of incomparable power”. It is particularly caught up with the commodification of intellect, the problem of making material thought, the documentation of subjectivity and taking subjectivity to a self-reflexive point of feedback. It contains the general ramblings, cutups and reflections, intermixed with distortion static, tonal frequencies, plays on close microphone experimentation and many other effects.

It has that general anti-music feel of those who are trying to subvert music from being a form of cultural consumption, and to being a fast track to consciousness by shoving a spike of noise into their ear. But it is a particular type of social conscious, a specific political economic ideology that it seeks for you to buy into, which is the rub, it cannot escape its own ideology. The music encapsulates a form of ideological content that is generally within the genre of Marxist thought and seeks to subvert the capitalist commodification of the self. I still find it quite amusing and the undergraduate in me is rushing to buy copies of this anti-music product.

The Wire (March 2011, London)

Outer Limits section, by Nick Cain

Just Outside (Brian Olewnick, New Jersey, November 2011)

When I opened the package in which these LPs arrived, the knife I used left an incision directly across the black circle that occupies most of the back cover of this release. Seemed appropriate, somehow.

I find this one a good bit more interesting, ultimately, than the Exquisite Corpse album, largely due to its fine juxtaposition of the abstract and concrete, the latter consisting of the spoken words of Mattin, recording his thoughts on (I take it) a range of subjects, which he then distorts, cuts and otherwise manhandles, removing any real vestige of meaning with the exception, possibly, of tone of voice. In this sense, one recalls Lucier's "I Am Sitting in a Room", though the end result falls in territory adjacent to Ashley's "Automatic Writing". Not to make a qualitative comparison, just an elemental one.

Side A is quiet, Side B, less so. Sometimes the words are intelligible, more often not, slowed to an indistinct mumble. Electronics interfere like a mal-tuned analog radio. Sonically, it works quite well, balanced, slithery, interruptive. That's part of the irony, I suppose, that one is unable *not* to listen (at least, that's the case with me) without making assessments that are more aesthetic than political. One can expand upon the attempted portrayal (and understanding) of ideas made impossible by the corporate chaos around us, though that's not a particularly deep thought, both obvious and subvertable. So one listens to it as sound, contravening what I imagine Mattin's preference would be. And it works quite well, though my favorite aspect might still be the knife cut I made in the sleeve.