Matt Carlson :: All Moments (NNA Tapes) LP
Matt Carlson :: All Moments (NNA Tapes) LP
NNA050: Matt Carlson “All Moments” LP
NNA is proud to present our 50th release, Matt Carlson’s “All Moments” long-playing record. Where 2011′s “Particle Language” LP acted as a study in texture and density within experimental synthesizer music, “All Moments” finds Carlson engaging with the more traditional musical materials of melody, harmony, and rhythm, calling to mind his work as one half of Portland, OR duo Golden Retriever. The pieces on this record range from shorter pop études to longer, more open improvisatory synth studies, retaining a sense of playfulness and expressiveness within a highly focused and calculated framework. Recorded to four-track cassette and primarily hand-played with very little-to-no auto arpeggiation, “All Moments” captures an often-overlooked warmth and human quality in electronic music, emphasized further by Carlson’s use of modal and tonal vocal studies, electronically transformed by his use of the vocoder. The result is a well-rounded collection of colorful, exuberant electronic music.
Mastered and cut by Lupo at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Artwork by Jason Traeger.
Tiny Mix Tapes:
Synthesizers can do many things. The vast proliferation of brands, synthesis methods, and models should indicate the variety available just in terms of the most basic sonic building blocks; but from there, possibilities grow to the horizon. A tight lead can fit over a bass line in a hip-hop hop track or act as the hook of a rock song; put an LFO on the filter cutoff, play a nasty bass line through it, and you have the beginnings of the famous dubstep wobble; layer pads, leads, and basses on some vintage gear with some basic melodies and you’ve got instant Vangelis. With vintage sounds “returning” and new equipment hitting the market every day, the synthesizer is approaching a renaissance across the board. But it’s all in what you do with it. You can use them to make music within already codified genres, or you can search for new lands. Matt Carlson’s All Moments, despite its evocation of past explorers, is an island somewhere in the vast ocean of new electronic sounds.
All Moments is one of the most pleasant records that has come out this year. Carlson’s synth acts less as a static weapon or a dread-inducing drone monster than a cloud and bubble dispenser. Instead of forcibly kidnapping you into extradimensional portals, All Moments fills your current space with twittering cartoon birds and pools of rainbow-colored Kool-Aid. We’re in Wonderland, not the Astral plane. The liquid sounds of resonant filters here do not alarm or reach an unnerving tempo; they simply flow. Melodies rise and drift away as Carlson’s vocoded voice announces the next stop on the monorail. Despite all its good vibrations, Carlson never allows All Moments a cornball second. Synthesizers already hold a stigma of cheesiness, and with such a bright mood, the threat of clichés abound. Carlson runs circles around them, taunting them back. It’s as if he wants to approach those signifiers to the very edge of their insinuation, but stops short just as he reaches them, voiding expectations and allowing the relaxing mood to continue, uninterrupted by silliness or irony. To say it’s pleasant is also not to suggest that All Moments is without tension. It’s just never uncomfortable, only enough to move the pieces forward.
It might seem that synthesizers suggest specific sounds and genres in themselves, that musicians are merely using preset functions, that the limitations of synthesizers sculpt our musical landscape. It’s true that certain sounds have memories associated with them — vocal pads, for instance, call up associations of new age music, and synth strings evoke 80s sci-fi soundtracks. But it seems more likely that these tools are only in their initial stages of development, that they open up their possibilities as humans more fully explore them. Carlson’s sound doesn’t sound entirely new, but it opens up a space that didn’t seem possible before: a miniature genre unto itself, perhaps near to exhaustion already at the end of this album. It’s a novel experience whose results are due primarily to the man playing the synthesizer, not the synthesizer itself.
01. A Moment
02. Raindrop Garden
03. Field Electric
04. Reality Club
05. A Lock Against Oblivion
06. Standing Wave
07. All Moments
Modular maestro Matt Carlson follows up the alien invention of last years 'Particle Language' LP with a lushly melodic and playful suite erring much closer to his work with Golden Retriever. As NNA's 50th release it perfectly reflects the label's explorative agenda, balancing improvised freedom with avant-garde compositional experiments and taking in shorter pop études along with mind-bending polychromatic sprawls. Apparently there was "little-to-no arpeggiation", all sounds were played in by hand and bear a distinctly human fingerprint of expression, bursting with synaesthetic colour/emotion and engrained with fizzing texture/space in an enveloping wormhole of beguiling sonorities and morphing vocoder tones. We'd recommend checking the warm pop froth of 'Reality Club' and the swirling colour field of 'Standing Wave' to acclimatise to his heady scales, and venture forth if the scenery takes you. Recommended.
september 2012 release ; ... long-awaited follow-up to matt carlson’s “particle language” lp (draft,2011) as well as the landmark 50th release on nna tapes (way to go toby & matt !!!) ...
... as said was perhaps the single most zeitgeist-defining album of contemporary music we “worked”last year, the existence of new set of “live-played” analogue modular synthesizer music is amajor cause célèbre ... while the tone here is vastly more streamlined & dareisay “accessible” than “particle” ‘s often entirely abstract patch-cable wizardry, the adherence to consistently melodicmodules & straight-tempi simply shows us another side of carlson’s formidable vocabulary on his chosen dot.com modular & voice / vocoder arsenal ...
... amazing record ; highly recommended !!!
Modular maestro Matt Carlson follows up the alien invention of last years 'Particle Language' LP with a lushly melodic and playful suite erring much closer to his work with Golden Retriever. As NNA's 50th release it perfectly reflects the label's explorative agenda, balancing improvised freedom with avant-garde compositional experiments and taking in shorter pop études along with mind-bending polychromatic sprawls. Apparently there was "little-to-no arpeggiation", all sounds were played in by hand and bear a distinctly human fingerprint of expression, bursting with synaesthetic colour/emotion and engrained with fizzing texture/space in an enveloping wormhole of beguiling sonorities and morphing vocoder tones.
By Alex HudsonIt's been less than a month since Matt Carlson released Occupied with the Unspoken with his Portland duo Golden Retriever, but the busy musician -- who also played in Parenthetical Girls -- has already announced a new solo album. Entitled All Moments, it will arrive on September 18 via NNA Tapes.
While his previous solo work has dabbled into experimental synth music, this LP is more focused on what a product description calls "traditional musical materials of melody, harmony, and rhythm," and more closely resembles his work with Golden Retriever. It was recorded to four-track cassette with almost no automation, apparently making for a warm and human sound.
Just because it's less boldly experimental, however, don't expect it to be tame, since it offers both "shorter pop études" and "longer, more open improvisatory synth studies." Expect to hear some modal and tonal vocal parts that utilize vocoder.
Hear the sprawling, seven-minute synth epic "A Lock Against Oblivion" below. Pre-order the album here.