nedjelja, 7. travnja 2013.

Matthew Collings – Splintered Instruments (2013)

Matthew Collings - Splintered Instruments

Destruktivna nasilnost koja cijeli život buja u čovjeku izbija odjednom kroz melodije. Izdizanje kroz urušavanje. Impresivno.


There is tension in the very first note… What is that growling bass slowly rising through the building rhythmic percussion? What is that uneasy feeling of a swelling sound that takes up all of the oxygen in the room leaving you gasping for breath? What is that strong presence that seeps through each pore of its textured coating, raising the sound on a soft pillow of sculpted dynamics and perfectly designed atmosphere? It is the culmination of all previously stored energy releasing itself through Matthew Collings‘ debut album for the beloved Fluid Audio. And I am immediately in love…

The music on Splintered Instruments is both rough and beautiful. Like a fragile rose, it’s ready to puncture your skin with its thorns, while making you intoxicated with its scent. The strings uncoil and the hammers break. The metal is twisted over the splitting wood, as the harmony shatters and pierces with chords. This is not about noise or the decibel levels (although I do recommend you listen to this album loud) – it’s about the sheer uncompromised approach to raw sound design, as if extracting an essence with a masticating juicer from each acoustic instrument in play.
“Emotionally this record comes out of reckoning with the destructive forces in my life. I’ve felt my whole life as if there is an immense, violent force ready to come out of me. I wanted to finally reach it and reckon with it. Here it rears its head, filtered through melody…”
The final result is somewhat unclassifiable. It’s peppered with an eclectic array of later manipulated acoustic instruments and field recordings (I think I even heard a bass clarinet and a crow’s “koww” next to distorted guitar, theremin, prepared piano, and some tambourine). The structure is very organic, breathing like a heaving animal, transforming build-ups into collapsing drops, and resting softly on the space in-between. The vocals are not distracting and instead add an element of humanity towards this instrumental requiem of artistic expression.
After a few collaborations with Talvihorros (see A Thousand Plateaus out on hibernate in 2011) and Dag Rosenqvist (see Wonderland on hibernatein 2012), this Edinburgh (Scotland) based composer finally releases a solo full-length. Among the numerous appearances on the album behind an array of acoustic instruments, one name stands out. That name is Ben Frost, and he is credited with producing and engineering Splintered Instruments, as well as playing the piano on “Vasilia”. Fluid Audio gives the album its highest honor, and publishes the release in a limited edition run of 200 hand-made letter pressed CDs. The package includes a set of photo prints on archival paper, a guitar pick, and hand-typed sealed envelope. You can also pick up a digital version (FLAC, of course, included) directly from the artist’s bandcamp site.

Since his debut’s genesis in 2008, Matthew Collings has been busy. First, he opened and shuttered the Sketches For Albinos alias (the lush and lonesome Days Of Being Wild And Kind is right where he left it in August 2010, well worth a full listen). He has written the fetching, restrained and yet-unreleased score for Hakon Palsson’s short filmGuilt. He offered up the remarkable collaboration with Dag Rosenqvist, alternately savage and reflective, and the imminent Graveyard Tapes debut with Euan McMeeken. His most recent output is the explosive Convex Mancave project, which is a dark brew, to be sure, and difficult to know if that’s a glimmer in their eys, or an angry tic.
Putting it all in chronological order plots a straight line from the delicious calm of Sketches For Albinos and Guilt to the prankster volume of Dance of the Mancavettes. At this rate, the next album will be a collaboration with Thurston Moore featuring industrial static, packaged with ear protection and pages torn from Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Yet given the out-of-sequence release of Colling’s debut and the relatively similar Graveyard Tapes album, the listener cannot resist the idea that this is where Collings is most at home: dissonance and hush, impact and stillness. Opening track “Vasilia” — for which Collings credits Ben Frost as a co-composer — pulses with kinetic force: right-hand piano work, cruiserweight percussion, and a feral guitar lick that he allows proper distance. The composition swells and as returns: not just in profile, but in volume and narrative. For someone photographed with his laptop as much as with his guitar, Collings rages against the machine, not with it. This is an uprising against the steady hand and time signature precision of composing software.
But the first instrument to splinter is Collings’ voice. His julienned crooning reveals an affection for 80s post-punk, and this laborious pruning is the anti-Auto Tune. We first notice throughout “Vasilia” but it is most evident in “Crows,” in which vowels are chopped into bytes and embedded into a vague, spinning percussion. The track closes with 45 seconds of near-silence: a terrific detail. “They Meet On The Subway” is similarly grinding and choral, ringing with bells and the abstract, buzzing orchestra familiar to Sketches For Albinos devotees.
The album veers somewhat during its final third, adding clarinet, bass clarinet, trombone and trumpet to this already fracturing orchestra. Whether by association or because of something in their physical properties, wind and brass instruments are the best hardware for communicating loss. In the hands of a blues player, the tones themselves speak of love lost, men lost, no lyrics or exposition needed. In a military ceremony, the wordless message is just as unmistakable: a soldier is lost. Here the summery, almost cheerful clarinet of “Paris is Burning” sets up a scraping, muddled, yet ecstatic drop. So what is lost? What Collings seems to be scrambling to find is a clear mind, and the brassy, mournful, imploring final minute of “Routine” does not overrule the impression.
Splintered Instruments is available on January 31 in CD/letter pressed cover format, “with photo prints stored in archival paper, guitar pick, cards/download code all packed neatly into hand typed/numbered sealed envelopes.” - Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio

Matthew Collings is a musician once of Iceland, now of Edinburgh (just as cold I believe). Live he creates a wall of sound using guest guitarists of which haplessly one was once this writer who had to be informed halfway through by a fellow guitarist he hadn’t put his headphones on. Anyway it’s as much of a blast to watch as the opening track here is to listen to. A cacophony of aggressively strummed guitars are joined by crashing percussion, pianos being pushed down stairs while vocals attempt to cut through the racket.

It seems that Collings has tired of the ambient scene and decided to make a noise instead. And it’s no bad thing. Those of you waiting patiently/foolishly for some new My Bloody Valentine... um... product could do well to hear ‘They Meet on The Subway’; a bendy blast of intriguing distorted guitars, whistles and bells which reaches sonic overload half way through. The remaining tracks drift more into ambient textures with disembodied voices, neoclassical-like strings but luckily with lashings of surface noise and eerie distant vocals. Most impressive. - Norman Records

At any point the songs feel like they might sink into a never-ending pit of despair. ‘Splintered Instruments’ takes the path less taken on this album. For while the songs appear to be ready and set to collapse they become uplifting. Matthew Collings creates a series of songs based around the concept of ‘hope’. Hope is all over these pieces. Employing unconventional methods and instruments ‘Splintered Instruments’ manages to surprise on numerous occasions. Part classical, part experimental firmly grounded in at least rock tradition Matthew Collings celebrates the unusual. 

                ‘Vasilia’ begins the album off in grand fanfare. Layering multiple elements on top of each other it balances itself on a particularly heavy bass line. These elements seem to battle each other until the end when they work together as the drums come in. ‘Subway’ is downright beautiful with a lovely rumble of a beat. Here ‘Splintered Instruments’ sounds positively massive. Matthew brings things down from their intensity to something closely resembling ambient interludes on ‘Crows’ and ‘Pneumonia’.  Each of these prepare for the one-two finale. ‘Parisisburning’ uses classical instruments to get its point across in a rather gingerly way. Horns join the distortion to give the noise structure. By the end not even the horns can control it. Finally on ‘Routine’ Matthew seems to take on a more modern classical approach similar to Max Richter’s work. 

                While seeming to be unstable Matthew Collings knows exactly what he is doing. The results are of an album that avoids many common abstract cliches for something warm, organic and undeniably human. -

Interview with Matthew Collings

Matthew Collings
You’ve been working on a lot of different projects in the past, what finally prompted you to release a full-length album under your real name?It was mainly at the suggestion of someone else actually. I’d been recording under the name Sketches for Albinos for a few years, and the music I had in my head really no longer matched that aesthetic or feel. It didn’t make any sense to keep working under that name. It’s also nice not to be hiding behind a moniker or other identity, and to really put yourself out there in a raw kind of way. There’s also my own battle with the word ‘composer’, which I now feel comfortable describing myself as. I think the word needs to be re-claimed from the ‘classical’ sense of the word, as in someone who works with traditional instrumentation and writes out sheet music. For me Burial is a composer, as is Chris Watson, David Lang, Michael Gira or Kevin Shields. They use different means and tools but what they create is of equal value and interest.
How would you describe your music?That’s always a tough one… Guitar and Electronic music always at the edge of collapse, sometimes aggressive, sometimes kind.
Tell us about the process of recording Splintered Instruments.‘Splintered Instruments’ really started properly when I started work with Ben Frost in Greenhouse Studios. That’s when things started to shape up and all the possibilities in these ideas started to appear. It was kind of like the training wheels came off. After that is was a very slow process or carving up ‘song-like’ structures into something more spacious, but always trying to be highly rhythmic. Much of it was about avoid certain things; not making ambient-music, being ‘rock’ but not… The sound I had in my head was like Sonic Youth’s ‘The Diamond Sea’ meeting ‘Music for 18 Musicians’. I wanted to take songs and kind of dissolve them and then bring them back again, with everything just being on the edge of these various types of structures. I also wanted to record everything to a certain standard which delayed the record a lot. I also distracted myself by focusing on a lot of extraneous details rather than the core of the music sometimes; it was a real adventure making that record, and I learned a huge amount. I also worked very closely with Paul Evans, who was an engineer at the studio, on a lot of pretty abstract ideas and recording processes including a lot of ‘prepared speaker’ work which has become a focus of much of my work since. Dan Rejmer also mixed the record like a king, so there were a lot of key people and valuable inputs along the way.
Talk a little on the physicality of sound in your compositions.Physicality in sound is something I’ve really become interested in over the last few years. My favourite music is really immersive, in one way or another, in texture, feel, volume; I want to be overwhelmed by it. I also realised that I have to have this in live performances as well, both in terms of volume and physical engagement with the music. I can’t stand and stare at a laptop, I need to hit a guitar, thrash at it (I often end up cutting up my fingers at gigs from this) and have something which physically makes me engage otherwise I just can’t get into it. So I’m really interested in finding ways to do this. I wrote a piece a few years ago which I play live a lot called ‘Elysia’, which is based around the behaviour of sets of side-chained compressors, all controlled from an electric guitar. This way you have to play the guitar really hard to get certain effects from the material, as crushing the material up is the basis of the piece. It becomes a physical experience and performance otherwise it really doesn’t work. I’m really interested in that. After all music sounds and feels better when you move.
You mention that one of the concepts behind the album is a “revolt against machines”. Can you expand a bit on that?It ‘s just about trying to use physical objects to process sound. Using broken speakers, or pushing in the cones as drums play through them, or re-recording parts in real rooms rather than using reverb, combining live instruments with multiple takes of themselves etc. Just finding more interesting ways of recording than just using plugins on a computer. Having said that, a lot of my more recent work has been using custom-made software to achieve certain ends, but I’m usually far more interested in real-world sounds than artificial ones. I use the computer so centrally in what I do only out of convenience… If I could do it all on an acoustic guitar, trust I would! I really used machines to assemble giant collages of material on this record, which would have been impossible otherwise. But 90% of the material is from the acoustic, ‘real-world’.
I have to ask this – how did you get involved with Ben Frost?I lived in Reykjavik for 6 years. It’s a small place, eventually you run into most people. I met Ben through my job at the time, which was a happy coincidence really, as I’d just seen him play at Iceland Airwaves shortly after the release of ‘Theory of Machines’ and been excited by what he was doing. We got to know each other, and I played in his piece ‘Music for 6 guitars’ a couple of times. We look at a lot of music and sound in similar ways so there was plenty of common ground. He liked some demos I gave him and we just started working together, which went on on and off for a few years. He was the perfect person for me to work with at that time, and I’m very grateful for that.
And how did you end up on Fluid Audio?I had a few mutual acquaintances who knew Dan, who runs Fluid Audio. When I was looking for a home for ‘Splintered Instruments’ they felt it would be a natural fit. Their releases are always works of art, with such quality and time poured into them. I’m extremely grateful for all their hard work and support.
Talk a bit about your other projects, such as Sketches For Albinos and Graveyard tapes.Sketches for Albinos was a lo-fi/ambient project I had when I lived in Iceland. I issued a number of albums under that name. I still really love that stuff, it’s all very very personal and I’m hoping to return to that project later this year, only it will have to take on a slightly different form. Graveyard Tapes is my project with Euan Mcmeeken. Euan comes from a more traditional songwriting, piano and vocal background and it’s a collaboration based around song-like forms. We recently released a record called ‘Our Sound is Our Wound’ on Lost Tribe Sound, which we’re really proud of and has fantastic artwork by Jamie Mills. It’s great to work with this project as it helps frame some of my experimental tendencies into a specific form, and working with Euan is also a lot of fun.
And what about your sound installations?I’ve done a number of installations (see some of these here) usually using custom-made software and various ways of interacting with the space, sometimes using light, sometimes hacked game controllers. I really enjoy this type of work as you can really see and instant reaction in people, and you also reach such a broad range of people. That’s really rewarding. I developed an algorithmic cinema project recently with Erik Parr calledThe Third Mind, which we exhibited as an installation with ‘foley stations’ where the public could contribute sounds into the system in the same way as you would as a foley artist adding additional sounds onto a film. I’d love to do an installation which was based on physicality and a space using infrasound or something similar. Something very meditative from pure sound and guitar amplifiers, bathed in deep red light. Very Lynchian…
What are you working on right now?The follow up to ‘Splintered Instruments’, which I’m really excited about. I’m really trying to condense and explore certain ideas, such as the relationship between rhythm and texture, but still making something with a sense of narrative, and dare I say it, ‘pop’. Although I’ve been told I have a very messed up idea of what pop music is. At the moment it sounds like David Lang meeting Nirvana, Raime meeting Steve Reich. I’ve also started working with Euan Mcmeeken on the second Graveyard Tapes record, which has a lot of spirit and energy behind it. I think it might be my most optimistic record to date. Also finishing off a full-length record with Dag Rosenqvist (after our EP ‘Wonderland’) and a record of improv-based recordings with Christos Michalakos under the guise Black Isle Corpus. Busy as ever

Wonderland (2012) streaming

a thousand plateaus (2011) streaming

A collaboration between Talvihorros and Matthew Collings for their co-headline tour of September 2011. 

The ep combines both artist's fascination with creating contrasting textures and moods, from wild crushing distortion and heavy sub-bass to the delicate, naturalistic use of live instruments, from the acoustic guitar to bass clarinet. 

Ideas and sounds flew back and forth over the interweb creating a seamless and rich blend of both artist's individual styles. 

Fractured Instruments (2011) streaming

'Splintered Instruments', released 31/01/13:


The music on Splintered Instruments is both rough and beautiful. This is not about noise or the decibel levels (although I do recommend you listen to this album loud) – it’s about the sheer uncompromised approach to raw sound design…The final result is somewhat unclassifiable.
Headphone Commute
We can only raise a toast in gratitude that such music is being made despite its unfortunately underground status.
A Closer Listen

An album that is intensely emotional and sonically disturbing, but also creates a vein of melancholy and accessibility that ambient music rarely sees.
The Death of CDs
This is how you produce CDs in the modern age. Most impressive.
Norman Records

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Video Promo (by Erik Parr, Timo Rychert and Matthew Collings):

Splintered Instruments Promo from matt collings on Vimeo.

GRAVEYARD TAPES, (project with Euan Mcmeeken):
'Our Sound is Our Wound':

Get the Record here:

'WONDERLAND' with Dag Rosenqvist:

Collaboration with Swedish composer Dag Rosenqvist, based around a series of images in Reuters of an abandoned amusement park in China.

(collaborative EP with Talvihorros)

'This four track ep pushes both artist's sounds forward into new territory, creating a sound with as much in common with Tim Hecker's walls of noise as the delicate melodies of Talvihorro's previous work or Colling's Sketches for Albinos side-project… Melodies drenched in static ripped apart by a sub-bass arsenal with clarinet's wailing from an echo chamber on fire…a thousand plateaus.' - PRESS BIO

Music and Sound Design for Film
Carino Trailer (Sound Design and Mixer Matthew Collings)

Cariño - main trailer from julian nicholson on Vimeo.


From the forthcoming full-length soundtrack to 'Guilt':

2011 - 'A Light Affaire', dir. Ansgar Hoeckh, Original Music, Sound Design and Dubbing Mixer Matthew Collings

2011 – Guilt, dir. Hákon Pálsson, Original Music, Sound Design and Dubbing Mixer Matthew Collings

2010 – The Invisibles (short film series commisioned by Amnesty International), dir. Marc Silver, featuring Gael Garcia Bernal, Music by Ben Frost, performed by Daniel Bjarnason, Borgar Magnusson and Matthew Collings

2010 - The Man with the Movie Camera, dir. Dziga Vertov (1929), Original Soundtrack Matthew Collings, performed by Matthew Collings and Frank Aarnick. Commissioned by Reykjavik Design Festival

2010 – Jungle Fever, dir. Hákon Pálsson and Ansgar Hoeckh, Music and Sound Design Matthew Collings

2010 – Lilith – dir. Rósa Ómarsdóttir, Music and Sound Design Matthew Collings

2010 – 'I love you Mum', Competition Short film, dir.. Yu Hsueh Lin, Music Matthew Collings



'The Invisibles':

'Jungle Fever' :

Jungle Fever from Hákon Pálsson on Vimeo.

Hákon Pálsson Showreel
Original Music Matthew Collings

2012 - 'Heartbeater' - Commission for NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee - 

Heartbeater from matt collings on Vimeo.

2011 - 'Music Impossible' - Light beams, Light sensors, Octaphonic Sound
Glasgow City Halls, Glasgow, UK

Music Impossible was a joint commission from the Glasgow Old Fruitmarket Gallery with Brendan Doyle, Jung-in Jung and Martin Parker. It was specially created for Glasgow's UNESCO City of Music family fun day.

A light and sound installation for all ages, the installation is modeled on a 'Mission Impossible' style scenario, when you break the beams, you can trigger sound!

The installation is based around a custom-made system of lighting, light sensors and computer software in Max/MSP.

Pictures from Music:Impossibe (copyright Elin Svennberg)

2011 - 'Concept Mixer' - Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh UK

An audio-visual installation commissioned by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the inauguration of new members, November 2011. Based around 39 keywords drawn from the research areas of RSE members, the installation attempts to create dialogue and the cross-pollination of ideas across a wide range of topics. These range from physics and bio-technlogy to new music composition and renewable energy.

Changes are linked to a microphone which triggers a shift in theme and images related to these themes. A sound is also triggered, marking the change. This is done via an audio threshold inside the software, which when crossed by a sound of a certain volume (i.e. a handlap) produces a fresh, randomised collection of media.

2011 – ´The Acoustic Amplifier: Augmented Instruments/Audio Exertion' – For Guitar, percussion and multiple Found Objects, With Gareth Griffiths and Giorgios Aposkitis
Alison House, Edinburgh, UK

The Acoustic Amplifier is an Augmented Instrument, combining acoustic instruments and found objects. It uses an Electric Guitar as a controller for other sound-making objects (such as percussion and resonant metal) via custom-made computer software and vibrational sensors. When the guitar is played, the 'Acoustic Amplifier' creates an unexpected and unique soundworld, highlighting the expressive and physical qualities of performing on the instrument. 

'Acoustic Amplifier' Demonstration (2011)

The Acoustic Amplifier (performance & demonstration) from TheAcousticAmplifier on Vimeo.

Development Stills for 'The Acoustic Amplifier'

Other Installations:

2011 – Manipulate Festival – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, UK 

2010 – Intersection – 
Burning Man Festival, San Francisco, USA 

2009 – Nesting – Video Installation by Linn Bjorklund, Sound by Matthew Collings,
Reykjavik Art Musuem, Reykjavik, Iceland



20th Feb
with Alex Mackay
Glasgow City Halls
Candleriggs, G1 1NQ 

28th Feb
with Mikael Lind

6th & 7th March 2013 // 
The Third Mind (algorithmic cinema project with Erik Parr)
Performances with Christos Michalakos
CCA // 
Centre for Contemporary Arts
350 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow G2 3JD,

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Excerpt for performance at Sonica Festival, Glasgow. Live Video Streams from cameras fixed about two prepared amplifiers were projected onto a shop front in central Glasgow, as part of a live performance, with guitar and electronics

Matthew Collings - Live at Sonica Festival. Glasgow from matt collings on Vimeo.

Live set at Pilrig St. Paul's Church, supporting Tim Hecker

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For Guitar, Laptop, Compression, Prepared Amplifiers


For Multiple Electric Guitars, Laptop, Prepared Amplifier and Room Microphones -

Preview Video:

Sketches For Albinos

Sketches For Albinos
Camped out somewhere in deepest, iciest Iceland Sketches for Albinos (aka Matthew Collings) makes music from the ends of the earth.

...I guess it all began with adventuring with tapes and things I had no idea how to do, but having a itch to scratch and a gap in my mind record collection that had to be filled...

All music composed and recorded by Matthew Collings in appartments and empty spaces on Lo-fi and Sub-standard instruments and consumer electronics in Reykjavik, Iceland between 2004 - 2010.

These are fleeting moments, unrefined and emotive -- leftover breeze at the end of a storm...with his balance of the sweet against the discordant, the mood is simply more primordial than primal...(




LISTEN TO '...that city is a liar', Ropeadope, 2007



2011 – Sketches for Albinos - Fireworks over the Dead City Radio, Loki Records, UK 

2010 - Sketches for Albinos – 'Days of Being Wild and Kind', Nothings66 records, Japan 

2010 - Sketches for Albinos - ́Bedroom Eyes ́, featured on ́Duskscape not Seen ́ compilation, (CD, Album), Nothings66 records, Japan

2007 – Sketches for Albinos - ́Red ́, (Download, Album), Imoto Records, UK 

2007 – Sketches for Albinos - ́...that city is a liar ́, (Download, Album), Ropeadope Records, USA 

2006 – Sketches for Albinos - ́Let it Snow ́, featured on ́It ́s not like Christmas ́charity compilation, (CD, Album), Izumi Records, UK 

2005 - Sketches for Albinos – Sketches for Albinos EP, (CD, EP, Ltd Ed.), Girlfriend Records, UK


MELoDEE (2010) - COMMISSION FOR NEON DIGITAL ARTS FESTIVAL, DUNDEE (Collaboration with Skye Reynolds, Jung-in Jung and guest artist Tamsyn Russell)

For Physical Gestures and Gaming Technology (using 3 Gametrak Controllers/Max/MSP)


This was a structured improvisation with Nicolas Fishleigh (Dance) and Simon Barker (Poetry) at the Eymundsson bookstore in Reykjavik


A number of pieces are currently being developed with choreographer Skye Reynolds and Composer Pippa Murphy, using Nintendo Wii Controllers to allow dancers to shape the sonic aspect of a performance directly from their movements.

The Third Mind

The Third Mind
Created by composer Matthew Collings and visual artist Erik Parr, The Third Mind is an interactive audio-visual app, performance and installation that explores the idea of ‘algorithmic cinema’. 

The project is an interactive space that combines cinema, music, 'foley' and live action performed by Matthew Collings (guitar, electronics, prepared amplifier, live foley), Christos Michalakos (percussion, electronics) and Erik Parr (visual processing).

The project was premiered at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, March 5-6th 2013.

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'a special brew well worth experiencing' 

'a strange and quite stimulating thing..a digitally-distressed garble ricocheting around our heads in surround sound...until image and audio were a hypnotic blur'
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The Third Mind - CCA Promo from matt collings on Vimeo.

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