Matt Davignon - Living Things:
"Living Things" is my third CD to use drum machine as the only sound
source (after 2005's "Bwoo" and 2006's "SoftWetFish"). With this release, I decided to distil the organic themes that have always been present in my work. In some tracks, the music is more melodic than anything I've done before. Other tracks are imitations of natural sound recordings. On a whole, the disc is a little more focused, and a little less saturated than the previous two.
Released January 19th, 2010
Ordering from Edgetone Records
Also available for download at iTunes, Amazon.com, Emusic.com and others.
3) Freshwater Hydra
5) Snowshoe Hare
6) Blind Cave Tetra
7) Frozen Hummingbirds
Note: Some of the download sites, including Itunes and Amazon, have the wrong track title for track #5. The correct track names are above.
Oakland based artist, Matt Davignon has been producing stellar
experimental sounds since he was a teenager. Since 2004, he has been
using a drum machine, which he plays manually and then processes the
sounds. Living Things is like looking at tiny creatures in nature under
a microscope - you hear chirps, whirrs, gurgles crackles and many other
Matt Davignon makes strange, elastic sounds out of a drum machine. It’s an interesting transformation — instead of dry clicks and snaps, you get long, gloopy
tunes, a more liquidy and organic sound than I’d associate with the
phrase “drum machine.”
I’d never even seen a drum machine before getting a hands-on
demonstration from Davignon. It was at the first “Touch the Gear”
exhibition (held as part of the annual event now called the Outsound New Music Summit),
the idea being that you could talk to artists about the computers,
pedals, and blinky-light machines that make all these abstract sounds. (Very highly recommended event, btw; I’m really hoping to bring my kids if they do it again.)
And YOU can get a hands-on demo, virtually, thanks to YouTube. Davignon has set up a video series called “Rigs!” that’s well worth checking out. Here’s his Drum Machine demo, part 1.
The gist: He starts with drum machines, including some that produce
tuned beats, runs them through reverb, looping, sampling, and other
effects, and comes
out with odd new sounds. It’s a process that allows for lots of
spontaneous adapting, as you might imagine; Davignon even talks about
adjusting pitches on the fly to match the keys of other instruments.
The results are interesting little soundscapes, as shown on his earlier albums Bwoo and SoftWetFish. But on the new Living Things, the idea takes a new turn.
It’s not pop at all, but Davignon builds some of these pieces around overt melody and rhythm that you’d associate with pop.
Take the six-minute “Mold.” It follows a stompy little beat with a
rattly sound that’s got a trace of melody to it — something The
Residents would be proud to play. Then he gets into some soloing — a
murky, swampy path of synthlike tunes that keeps up the mysterious mood
“Markhor” is more of a wanderer, presenting a melody of slow,
sliding tones. “Saguaro” builds a steady, slowish riff, then undocks
for a solo of spacey, floating tones.
There’s plenty of abstract territory covered here, too. “Blind Cave
Tetra” is a series of rattly, echoing sounds like — well, like a cave,
at least a radio-theater version of one.
Should I admit I’m an old D&D geek? Davignon’s creations have
always made me thing of gelatinous cubes and similarly blobby, formless
creatures. (Or — wait — jellyfish. Next time, I’m gonna be less geeky
and just say “jellyfish.”) That trend doesn’t stop with Living Things,
but the heavier concentration on melody adds a relaxing touch and gives
the music a stamp that’s different from the previous albums.
-Craig Matsumoto - Memory Select: Avant Jazz Radio