"The process of my pieces becomes only finished in the listenerís space, so itís rather an active kind of listening Iím hoping for. I like the idea of sound traveling, traveling and traveling through various spaces while each space has its own impact." (Stephan Mathieu).
Stephan Mathieu, traffics in turntablism, electroacoustics and abstract digitalia, navigating the intersection of environmental sound, early instruments and obsolete media, captured and transformed via experimental microphony, re-editing and software processes. His working methods, though reconfigured, have hardly changed in terms of digital tools over a decade.
For A Static Place his methodology involved playing back sections of early music 78s with two mechanical gramophones, soundwaves from its period instruments being read by a cactus needle, amplified through the diaphragm and on through the horn, the ensuing sound being picked up by a pair of customized microphones before being computer-transformed by spectral analysis and convolution processes. The processes applied are based on different acoustic spaces being merged to create new imaginary spaces inhabited by the initial audio data, variously altered by transposition across media or to new listening contexts; found in translation, you might say. What has changed from project to project has been the nature of source material. It's somewhat paradoxical that what seems superficially to be about transformation or veiling is actually in some ways about revealing, in fact more so for the artist. "Iím after an essence of sound, of the material or instruments Iím working with," he declares. The basic processes are the same as were used for Radioland, the gramophone setup the same as that with which he'd created the material for Transcriptions. What this work does in effect, perhaps even more noticeably than previous, is to play around with temporal trajectories, reaching back and pulling forward and beyond. A Static Place is his portrayal of sound's journey through time, and through several temporo-spatial dislocations. Disappeared sounds are re-captured and re-constituted through early, intermediate and current technologies. In fact, the eponymous Ďplaceí is itself not static but shifting Ė from the studio in which the piece was originally recorded to the room in which Mathieu was playing them back, to that of current playback.
The album's opener, ďSwarzschild Radius,Ē overtly signals something of this in its title - a term denoting the distance from the centre of an object which, if all of its mass were compressed into that space, would cause its gravitational field to be so strong that light could not escape, i.e. a schism in the fabric of space-time. When these sounds fill your environment, it further extends Mathieu's telescopic choreography of a century of record-playbacks, time-spaces. ďA Static Place 1aĒ feels like a room thick with resonance, harpsichord strings echoing into space, accruing glistening chance harmonics. On "A Static Place II" natural timbres are reproduced but effaced, transmuted, as if a dissolving ancient chamber orchestra. Elsewhere the trace of a ghost voice deep within seems to call remotely from amid the static and stretched stringy slivers.