Friday, May 31, 2013

Matthew Barlow - Product (self-released 2013)

a wonderful headphone experience. peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

 One of the nice things about writing for this blog is to occasionally receive a submission from an artist with whom I was previously unaware.  Matthew Barlow is a sonic explorer from Asheville, NC.  His long-form compositions represent a wonderful coalescence of minimalism, warm ambient sound, solemn tones, and profound moments of cascading aural energy.  Product, a self-released tape from Matthew, encompasses the listener from the start.  A listening experience characterized by immersion, subtlety and composition elements such as texture, tone and spatial awareness, these two sidelong tracks were created from processed field recordings at a local grocery store.  A wonderful headphone experience, this music should be played loudly for optimum enjoyment.  An outdoor setting is apt for this kind of music.  The propulsive, reverberating energy that is juxtaposed to warm ambient sound mirror the encompassing azure sky.  Perfect for mindful awareness, the fluctuations in tone and intensity trace the sinuous contour of the breath.

Side A commences with a soothing drone.  Within a minute, a propulsive, blinding burst of noise envelops the drone.  A discernible facet of this tape is the manner in which the tone vacillates in specific sections of the track.  Overshadowed by the lovely noise, the soothing tones fluctuate between being more subdued at one end of the continuum, and more assertive at the other.  Contrasted to the beginning, the noise transitions from being propulsive to oscillating.  Soon, it combines with a burgeoning stream of tranquil energy.  Even when the intensity of the track appears to climax, a gentle passage of sound pervades.  Almost halfway through the first side, a heavenly moment occurs through the juxtaposition of ethereal sound and compelling noise.  As the track progresses and the intensity of sound increases, it is occasionally permeated by placid tones.  The ubiquitous nature of the noise at the end makes the warm tones barely perceptible.  Side B is just as engaging and maybe slightly more dark in tone. There is a wonderful contrast in intensity of sound on this side, as toward the middle intense energy and ghastly tones churn before oscillating.  Immediately following is a section of relative silence, which is just as beautiful as its counterpart.  Approaching the end, tranquil ambient sound sits in the front of the mix and combines with swirling noise.

A lovely handcrafted release with a double-sided, color j-card, each cassette is accompanied by a handmade insert with handwritten notes on one side and a vintage ad cutout on the other side.  Home-dubbed in an edition of 40, the album art of Product features original photographs by Richard Auxilio.  Product may be purchased either directly from the artist or through Tomentosa.

peace and love, friends :)