Review: Matthias Urban – Intermission (Ultraviolet Light, Jan 30)

With still-memorable past releases such as SiAl and Half-Silvered Mirror, Austria’s Matthias Urban has established himself as a maestro of immersive, meticulously detailed sound of all sorts, from the more direct phonographic approach of the former to the lush concrète assemblage of the latter. The artist’s most recent tape was just released at the end of last month by Ultraviolet Light, and though the new material unsurprisingly clears the high bars set by its predecessors, it is also very fittingly UVL (i.e., ambitious, posthuman, utterly unlike anything you’ve heard before). With a straightforward enough mission statement—“Collages of algorithmic compositions, saxophone / voice / prepared piano improvisations and AI human-machine interactions. Realized and processed with MaxMSP, various other DSP, ASC tape recorders and chemical tape treatment”—Intermission is indeed once again concerned with space and scale, an almost gleeful dismantling of the boundaries between the smallness of individual objects/instruments and the staggering size of the dissonant Katamaris they’re rolled into. Even when the more conventional harmonics of the sax and key fragments come into focus, Urban’s ear is always for the tactile, sending percussive textures askitter whether he’s performing or processing.