Review: Matthew Atkins – The Subtle Silence (Midnight Circles, Mar 11)

German cassette label Midnight Circles describes their main focus as being on “sound and occasional music.” This happens to be a perfect description for Matthew Atkins’ The Subtle Silence, one of their newest tapes. The London-based artist, who also operates under the alias Platform, coaxes fragile beauty from soft patchworks of processed sounds and loops. Scrapes, brushings, the clinking of chimes and other metal objects, reverb-y recordings of cavernous environments; these are only some of the elements that come together in uneasy harmony across the six songs, a harmony that is placated by achingly gorgeous piano chords and wistful drones. The short album is more episodic than continuous, each track a self-contained development; but this is by no means a disadvantage. It’s pleasing to see how each evolves from different starting points, from the airy shuffles of “Sunken Shell” to the oddly rhythmic pulse of “Illuminated Index.” I couldn’t be more grateful that the “music” is only occasional amidst the “sound;” that only means I appreciate it so much more when it does appear.

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