Matthew Collings: Silence Is A Rhythm Too LP (Denovali, 2014) + Splintered Instruments LP (Fluid Audio, 2013/reissued Denovali, 2014)

November 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Matthew Collings: Silence Is A Rhythm Too LP

Matthew Collings: Silence Is A Rhythm Too LP

Scottish composer Matthew Collings creates electro-acoustic music marked by sharp contrasts and tension-filled buildups. His compositions combine scraping strings, bleating horns, and digital distortion, and often move to a point where you feel like you’re being crushed underneath. Even the relatively calm moments, like “Cicero” (from newest LP Silence Is A Rhythm Too), have a feeling of dread that’s hard to shake. “Toms” features handclaps and soft, spacious hand drums and beating around manipulated noise and feedback, as well as harpsichords and reversed pianos. The thrashing noise ebbs and flows, continually building and cutting out suddenly and growing back, with sinister guitar notes underneath it all. “I Am Made Of Endless Hours” features a strange whimpering noise sounding like a very unhappy dog stuck in a pound, along with fractured, clicking sounds and swarming pianos, horns and strings. Quite unsettling. The title track features more isolated clapping/stomping, which also gets fizzled and fractured along with distorted guitar effects.

Matthew Collings: Splintered Instruments LP

Matthew Collings: Splintered Instruments LP

Colling’s debut solo LP Splintered Instruments, a very apt description of his sound, has been re-released on vinyl after a limited CD release early last year. This album was produced by Ben Frost, who co-wrote opening track “Vasilia”, and the two artists certainly share tendencies for distortion and epicness. “Vasilia” is far more poppy than anything I’ve heard by Frost, though, with indie-sounding guitar and vocals along with the prepared pianos and noisy drums. “Subway” combines pounding, quaking drums with soft chimes and strings, and more ungodly distorted guitars and vocals. “Crows” obscures tremoloed vocals beneath shaking percussion and strings, and ends with a minute of soft pulsating. “Pneumonia” introduces woodwinds and manipulated crow sounds (curious why they didn’t appear in the previous song) along with more sharp, distorted instruments and vocals, and some soft pianos appear in the eye of the storm during the middle of the piece. “Paris Is Burning” has melodies reminiscent of minimalist composers such as Steve Reich underneath more crushing distortion and dissonant guitars. 10-minute closer “Routine” is comparatively soft and drifting, but it ends with a few moments of brain-blasting noise. In some ways, Splintered Instruments is the more accessible album of the two, but in other ways, it’s far more extreme.

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