Passagen by Matthias Urban

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Matthias Urban
Passagen (Experimedia; CD/DL)

After a few quiet years the innovative label who always puts quality ahead of quantity has recently released a limited edition cd (ed. of 300) and its complimentary Bandcamp download with Austrian sound artist Matthias Urban‘s Passagen. Starting with Studie I (Stabil) a simple buzz-tone increases and splits waves, it’s a clinical sound with a metamorphosizing drone that follows. This is pure digital synthesis at work. This cut is the record’s longest track, running sixteen minutes, with the shortest at 6:32, so this half dozen pieces intend to keep your ears busy while in progress.

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It’s a heady, electro-acoustic detached place to enter into an album, but it both takes its sweet time to unfurl, and keeps an other worldly distance. The alchemy of science and physics are at play to a certain extent, one could imagine this track being a study on the stability of floating geometries and various magnetization ranges, for instance. As the record flows, Studie II (Stabil) steadily continues this journey, microphones, metal, magnetic mechanics – oh my. The drone is varied with just the hint of harmony, but keeps all its range under the radar. After a while the repetitive low tone becomes fairly trance-inducing, perhaps unintentionally. Afloat, the now layered tones caress your inner ear, just so. This is a complex listen, testing, 1-2-3.


from p/r: “The process behind these compositions was surprisingly simplistic: small springs with magnets were affixed to the outside of a cymbal, while an electromagnet placed nearby induced oscillations in the metal. Urban would then introduce rhythmic frequency patterns using software he developed in Pure Date – an open source programming language – to “play” these compositions.”

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ATONAL + BLUNT: Each study III-VI (some a bit soothing, some Instabil) bring with it a new vignette of varying tones, from bell-like dings to harsher industrial ringing in the ears – such as that with a crescendo of corroded noise on Studie V (Immun).

  • If ever, oh ever, a contact mic there was, this record has one, because, because…

However, it’s in the reverberations on the finale, Studie VI (Kongruent), that will allow most to witness Urban’s harnessing of true noise, in the flare of musicality amid the din. It’s a futuristic concert performed on virtual percussion by cybots, it rumbles and sears with brilliant subtlety. It goes out the way it came in, into quietude.

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