*150 copies, Soundohm exclusive* Since launching Schwebung in 2012 as a platform for his own solo and collaborative work, the electroacoustic composer, performer, and installation artist, Stephan Mathieu, has kept us mesmerized with a sprawling array of material and proved himself to be one of the most prolific and engaging artists working in the contemporary field of experimental sound. Despite his remarkable pace of creativity over the years, in 2017 Mathieu stepped away from making music to focus on his equally noteworthy career as a mastering engineer. It was only when he was asked by an old friend, Peter Daners, a curator for Folkwang Museum, to create a piece for their upcoming Helen Frankenthaler show, that he momentarily shifted gears. The project resulted in his latest release, “Mauve District”, issued as a beautiful CD edition by Schwebung. A stunning gesture of Minimalism for processed piano, words defy its sprawling and immersive beauty, placing it high among our favorite releases in Mathieu’s long and esteemed career.
With a practice built around the sounds of early instruments, environmental recordings, and obsolete media, each re-constructed and transferred though intricate experimental process, Stephan Mathieu has been an unmissable force in the landscape of advanced contemporary music since the 1990s. Through is solo efforts and collaborations with Kassel Jaeger, Akira Rabelais, Ekkehard Ehlers, Janek Schaefer, Taylor Deupree, David Sylvian, and Fennesz, among numerous others, he has carved a deep path through sound.
Following on an incredible run of archival and recent material that began in 2018 - “Trace”, “Folio”, “Radiance”, “A Static Place / Remain”, “FrequencyLib / Sad Mac Studies”, etc. - “Mauve District” is Mathieu’s first physical solo stand-alone release of new material since 2017’s “Radiance”. Created as the soundtrack for an exhibition of the American painter, Helen Frankenthaler, at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, earlier this year, it’s a truly mesmerizing minimalist work for piano and processing, that immerses the mind and body in its intoxicating tones.
Running to just over forty minutes in length, “Mauve District” offers a near perfect statement of the subtly, constraint, and elegance for which Mathieu has become known over the decades. Working into a palette of sonority drawn from the piano’s tones, extended and drawn out into rippling harmonic drones, across the piece’s duration Mathieu slowly works in delicate, glacial melodic lines that unfold and hang in the air like the flowering of Spring. Bordering on the ambient, the piece is not only visionary on creative terms, but it’s easily among the most strikingly beautiful records we’ve heard so far this year.
Absolutely essential for any fan of Minimalism, ambient and electroacoustic music, and Stephan Mathieu in general, “Mauve District” is issued by Schwebung in a 6-panel 350g cardboard sleeve with Pantone 286 U print. A truly monumental return for Mathieu that leaves us waiting on bated breath for what might come next.