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Strom Noir – Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle

Zoharum

Strom Noir - Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové MotýleEmil Mat’ko‘s tenth year of recording as Strom Noir is marked by the collection from Zoharum, bringing to light old and new material alike.The eleven tracks on Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle (Painted Flowers & Xeroxed Butterflies, also the title of one piece) — which includes one of ten seconds of silence — are possessed of a pronounced weightlessness that fills the listening environment, drifting, droning and leading by the ears up and around its twisting auditory garden paths.

The first five instrumentals on the CD are the most recent compositions, and if at times they seems directionless, then perhaps that’s to miss the point by a country kilometre. This isn’t necessarily music to examine in detail, but to bathe deeply within, to float away from gravity’s constraints in a blissed-out haze of texture over melody, timbre rather than identifiable instrumentation or instrumentality.

The second half of the disc that follows the pause for quietude is made up of material from 2011 which is perhaps more varied, more likely to develop and change as the instrumentals unfold. In large part, this is due to the addition of acoustic guitars abused and extruded in various ways. The sound of the strings and the wooden bodies themselves are evident here, crackling and rolling among the electronic pastures that maintain a steadfastly dreamlike and dreaming state that wafts between a feeling of suspended animation and immanent crepitating activity.


This opening up of the sound, away from languidity and into details that proffer activity and something like engagement, lifts the second half into more engaging auditory spaces, ones where the hallucinatory still rules supreme, but closer to a wakeful state rather than a somnolent place to be lost inside and absorbed. On a piece like “Ttoollosk”, Mat’ko enters into territories that might align somewhat with those of the primitivist guitarists, what sounds like mechanised string brushes rolling along in waves expanding from diffuse directions in cross-cutting patterns that refresh the drift in favour of foregrounded textural complexity.

Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle is a deceptively calm album — it’s often relaxing and even perhaps could be called mellow. The variations and variegations of the sound, up to the crisp rustling and popping that suffuses the concluding “Pure II” with a fireside ambience, or perhaps the close-mic’d sound of a walk in a snow-blanketed forest, make it one that engages on subtle levels too.

-Linus Tossio-

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