Review: Matthew Atkins – Cryptic System (Falt, Oct 21)

If I’m not mistaken, this is the third release by Matthew Atkins that I’ve written about this year (a fact easily verified by searching for all instances of his name in post titles, but I’d rather use the phrase “if I’m not mistaken” instead). Cryptic System comes to us via Falt, a small independent French label with a DIY attitude toward making and presenting avant-garde music, an approach with which Matthew Atkins is quite familiar. The tape continues in the areas of object acoustics and electronic tones explored by Porous Inner Montage. Across two twelve minutes tracks, the listener is placed in the midst of the clutter created by these concrete sounds; it’s difficult to discern which interactions are taking place in the same recording and which are pasted on top, an obfuscation that gives the physical sound environments a crowded and disorienting form. But the individual elements provide a lifeline within the din of rattle and wobble; each component, whether a half-buried field recording or a plasticky whoosh like that of a waved piece of laminate, travels its own path, and following each one as they evolve through the piece keeps you grounded. The end of the second part is one of the tape’s most interesting and adventurous moments, with a dynamic swishing battling for space with the barely intelligible words of an unidentified voice. It builds a mysterious, abstract environment beyond the senses, juxtaposing the familiar and unfamiliar and landing somewhere in between. Needless to say, I’m excited for the spaces to which Atkins will take us next time.