Wade Matthews, Carmen Morales
Duration 42.18 | Released June 2022
Wade Matthews - digital synthesis & field recordings processed in real time
Carmen Morales - prepared piano
Abscission I 5.59
Plunge and Tumble (five variations) 5.52
Abscission II 3.44
Recorded by Wade Matthews
at Bodegas Descalzos Viejos, Ronda in August 2021
Mixed and mastered by Wade Matthews
at Smiling Cow Studio, Madrid in September 2021
About the Artists
Advanced academic studies in composition helped French-born American musician Wade Matthews realize he was not interested in telling other people what or how to play. In 1989, he moved from New York to Madrid and became part of the international improv community. Drawing on his knowledge of electronic music, he approached the bass clarinet and alto flute as “acoustic synthesizers”, rethinking their sonic possibilities, phrasing, and relation to breath in a musical language based on real-time creation. When faster processors made laptop synthesis viable, Matthews returned to his first love, tweaking a virtual synthesizer to allow very rapid control of sound parameters for solo playing and dialog with others. In 2007, he founded INTERMEDIA 28 with photographer Adam Lubroth and guitarist Julio Camarena. There, he began to combine field recordings with electronic synthesis in a 2-computer setup that has since become his main instrument.
Pianist and sound artist Carmen Morales studied at the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Malaga, Spain and the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany, completing her research thesis—The Physical-Acoustic Dimension of Prepared Piano—in 2017 with various public concerts and conferences in Spain, Colombia and the United States. Her professional career as a pianist began in 2013 and has taken her around Europe, North and South America as a soloist and member of new music ensembles.
She is currently active as a member of the audiovisual duo, Duro Vino and in numerous parallel projects involving improvisation, including a recording project with Wade Matthews, solo recordings for the Oigovisiones label in Malaga and others in duo with Colombian contrabassist Juan Pablo Balcázar.
Massimo Ricci — The Squid's Ear — 13.09.2021
Nothing expresses the potential for humans to create a common ground for in-depth dialogue like improvisation revolving around the performers' individual awareness. A collection of five tracks recorded in a deconsecrated Spanish monastery by Carmen Morales on prepared piano, and Wade Matthews using digital synthesis and real-time processing of field recordings, Fall is an embodiment of this premise. It comprises a wide variety of resonant environments, kinetics with continually shifting interrelations, and serendipitous modifications in the state of sonic matter.
While any technically proficient improvising duo can produce a miscellany of timbres and dynamics, potentially attaining akin outcomes but often only superficially, it is also true that this pair's creative inquisitiveness is evident in every move they make. At the risk of a silly pun, Morales is in fact genuinely (and academically) prepared on the prepared piano. After years of study in Malaga and Stuttgart, her research thesis was actually titled The Physical-Acoustic Dimension of Prepared Piano. At just 32, she conveys an air of wisdom in the way she reacts to each instrument symptom as a caring doctor would to a patient's body signals. Matthews, a veritable electroacoustic scientist who can work with anything from wind instruments to the mind-boggling specifics of computer-based equipment, has put aside the composition studies of the past to privilege his capacity for quick thinking and lucid, imaginative responses to stimuli in a live setting.
The music is diverse, laden with beneficial tension, not devoid of instants of stillness but rather, more commonly, marked by integrations of organic and ultramodern. As early as the opening "Aspen," a small universe of microorganisms with autonomous organization, capable of generating a combination of advanced counterpoint and intelligent noisemaking, quickly replaces the tolling murmur of low strings softly struck by Morales in contrast to the mutinous emissions of Matthews' laptops. Although the latter underlines the desire to come up with a non-evocative type of construction, when speaking of "Plunge And Tumble" he himself refers to "the erratic scurrying of practically weightless, brittle and curled leaves blown haphazardly along the pavement by the first winds of impending winter". If we extrapolate the poetic element from the description while listening to the aural equivalent, we can deduce that the seeds of memory deposited in our souls have always been and continue to be subject to evolutionary processes. Accordingly, Fall's acoustic biodiversity, at times born — to quote Matthews' notes again — from the simple act of looking into each other's eyes before beginning to play, is at once impressive and reassuring.
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg — Orynx — 31.08.2022
Enregistré à Madrid en août 2021, Fall – Five Improvisations réunit la pianiste Carmen Morales (prepared piano) et l’électronique de Wade Matthews (digital synthesis & field recordings) dans un remarquable duo d’improvisation contemporaine. Le contraste et l’empathie entre le piano joué par l’improvisatrice et les sons électro-acoustiques de ce chercheur-concepteur se révèlent extensibles et en métamorphose constante. Il en résulte quatre allégories sonores ciblées et remarquablement calibrées pour des durées assez courtes : 1. Aspen – 6’51’’ , 2. Abcission I – 5’59’’, 3. Plunge and Tumble – 5’52’’ , 4. Abcission II – 3’44’’ , et une cinquième forme de narration longue de 19’50’’, 5. Hawthorn. Le sens de l’imbrication sonore est tout à fait remarquable et appelle à des écoutes répétées. En effet, les interrelations de jeux, de sons et d’extrapolations des sons digitaux en appellent aux mystères à des évidences cachées qui se révèlent après plusieurs écoutes. À l’œuvre, l’intention de mettre une écoute attentive et réfléchie et des actions pointilleuses par le truchement de médiums sonores acoustiques – un piano préparé manipulé du bout des doigts avec une grande précaution et la synthèse digitale intriquée d’enregistrements de terrains. Crédité field recordings, le travail de Wade Matthews s’apparente alors à la « musique concrète » basée sur l’utilisation de sons acoustiques réels préenregistrés et transformés manipulés pour la création musicale instantanée. Leur talent consiste à nous faire oublier l’aspect technique et matériel de leurs instruments respectifs pour dévoiler leur sensibilité, leur empathie interactive d’un autre type, une écoute mutuelle oblique et mystérieuse, la fragilité de leur équilibre instable, le souffle du son et la résonance du silence, des questions et réponses du connu (leur expérience passée) vers l’inconnu (ce qu’ils découvrent à la seconde même où c’est enregistré). Un point fondamental de l’improvisation libre est souligné ici avec une belle pertinence : l’attente auditive de ce qui va arriver immédiatement, une forme de douce surprise. Aural Terrains et Thanos Chrysakis nous réservent toujours de belles surprises !
Recorded in Madrid in August 2021, Fall-Five Improvisations brings together pianist Carmen Morales (prepared piano) with electronics by Wade Matthews (digital synthesis & field recordings) in a remarkable duo of contemporary improvisation. The contrast and empathy between the piano played by this improviser and the electro-acoustic sounds by this seeker-conceiver prove both elastic and ever evolving. The results are four purposeful and remarkably calibrated sonic allegories with quite short durations: 1. Aspen - 6'51", 2. Abcission I - 5'59", 3. Plunge and Tumble - 5'52", 4. Abcission II - 3'44", and a fifth narrative form lasting 19'50": 5. Hawthorn. The sense of sonic involvement is absolutely remarkable and calls for repeated listening. Indeed, the interrelated playing, sounds and extrapolations of digital sounds hint at inner mysteries, hidden clues that only reveal themselves after several hearings. At work here are intentions that bring into play attentive and thoughtful listening with pointillistic actions based on acoustic sound media—a fluent handling of the prepared piano, played with great care, and the intricate digital synthesis of field recordings. Credited with field recordings, Wade Matthews' work resembles "musique concrète" based on the use of real, transformed and prerecorded acoustic sounds manipulated to create music on the spot. Their talent lies in making us forget the technical and material aspects of their respective instruments to unveil their sensitivity, their interactive empathy on a whole other level, the hiss of sound and the resonance of silence, questions and answers from the known (their past experience) to the unknown (what they discover at the very instant that they are recording it). A fundamental aspect of free improvisation is underlined here with beautiful pertinence: the aural anticipation of what is just about to happen, a form of gentle surprise. Aural Terrains and Thanos Chrysakis always have such sweet surprises for us!
Translated to English by Wade Matthews