Review: Adam Matschulat – Formosa (Calling Cards Publishing, Mar 24)

This LP was a lovely surprise in light of my having heard Adam Matschulat’s previous two releases (credited only to his surname), Ulterior and Cutting the Stone on Resterecords, almost five years ago. Though I enjoyed those, Formosa, named for the region in Goiás, Brazil where the artist and his family spent childhood summers, is on another level entirely, its complexity and depth reflecting the nearly decade-long (and transcontinental) span of source recordings arranged in two meditative side-long pieces. According to Matschulat himself, much of his memory of Formosa is associated with the “safety” he felt there, a headspace reflected by the placement of the sounds themselves: so much of the familiar, soothing textures of leaves rustling, creatures calling, music being played, and vehicles puttering away are heard from a comfortable distance, leaving plenty of space for any listener to stretch their legs and/or ear canals. Our position in the soundscape is mobile too, though—no footsteps or other concrete signs of movement are audible, and yet the lens melts into new milieus with ease whenever it deems necessary. First it’s to better hear a concert; then it’s a humid trudge through the foliage while whining fly-buzzes orbit in a binaural halo, a sticky tension beautifully broken when we breach the treeline and cool off to the soundtrack of an impromptu vocal duet. It might be this moment that most reminds me of Ezio Piermattei’s Gran trotto (a disc with very few peers) in the way it celebrates the sublime in the mundane. The B side makes use of some of my favorite domestic sounds—the gurgle and hiss of a drip coffee maker—to introduce a lovely kitchen-based composition complete with crowing rooster and other birdsong drifting in through an open window. Anyone who follows this site knows how strongly I advocate for field recording as a vehicle for intimate personal expression, and anyone who listens to Formosa will not be confused about why.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s