Dusted Features

Listed: Stephan Mathieu

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Listed is Dusted Magazine’s series of music-related lists compiled by artists we admire. This week: veteran European sound sculptor Stephan Mathieu.

Listed: Stephan Mathieu

Stephan Mathieu is a drummer who was seduced into the digital arts by the apparently limitless potential for transformation and control that was promised by computers. So while his work often has a voltage-activated radiance about it, it also celebrates the physical existence of antique things, including the wind-up gramophone and Farfisa organ that he plays on his latest solo records, Un Coeur Simple and The Falling Rocket. Mathieu is an inveterate collaborator, and in September The Kilowatt Hour, his new trio with David Sylvian and Christian Fennesz, will tour Europe for the first time.

1. Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express (Kling Klang, 1977)

I got my first stack of pop records from my parents when I was around 6, among them The Beatles’ red and blue compilations, their white album, Rolled Gold by the Stones, The Golden Hour of the Kinks, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush and Elvis Forever. It was Trans Europe Express which provided me with a first musical shock. My dad was an admirer of Isao Tomita and Jean Michel Jarre when the album was released, I was 10 and had started playing drums, playing along to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, Bilitis OST, my records by The Sweet and Kiss. Those guys looked like out of my parent’s family albums, but they played drum kits that looked like portable hotplates… The melodies where somewhere between distant and merry, their sound as cool and minimal as nothing else around. Oddly, back then, they didn’t strike me as being electronic, it was simply an unheard band’s sound to me. My father wasn’t happy with his purchase but I played the record to death and pinned the poster over my desk. The following year they were on TV with Die Roboter and I was certain the future had arrived.

2. Japan - Tin Drum (Virgin, 1981)

In 1980, at 13 I started going to town after school, sinking my pocket money into arcade machines, first Asteroids and Pac Man, until I became a master with the brand new released Donkey Kong. I soon managed to play an entire afternoon for one coin, first fascinating, than frustrating my pals. I simply had to rescue the little princess! Games, they don’t do anything for me now. The places where I was allowed to go were located around Saarbrücken’s market place, back then a meeting spot for the local Mods, Punks, Rockabillies, John Lennon’s, Snobs, the occasional bikers, all of them in their own flocks, beaming black looks at the others. Cafe Schablonski had black light and fluorescent drinks. I liked the fashion – no matter which style – the haircuts, and the music of course. John Foxx’s Metamatic was in the air, I was with my first girlfriend (and for eight more years then), went to shows in squatted houses and sold my drum kit to buy more records. The Specials were my first real teenage heroes, they clicked with me (and I love Brad Bradbury’s playing). The place to go was a second-hand clothes shop in the suburbs; much more than a shop, it became a living room for many where we also exchanged records and mix-tapes and listened to a French radio station playing the soundtracks of Jacques Tati’s movies or Fats Waller’s pipe organ solos from the ‘20s. One of those tapes opened with “Ghosts” and closed after 90 minutes with “Sons of Pioneers.” On the way there were Suicide, Minimal Compact, 23 Skidoo, Rip, Rig + Panic, A Certain Ratio and all that, but the Japan tracks shone with sublimity, jumped at me with their totally unheard sound, precious, outstanding. Tin Drum to me is a perfect, completely timeless album and my daughter, who is 14 now, readily agrees. Jansen and Karn’s playing on “Sons of Pioneers” is definitely among my top five grooves.

3. Can - Delay 1968 (Spoon, 1981)

Delay ‘68 was released on Can’s Spoon label around the same time as Tin Drum. The record was my first encounter with their music, and from there I eagerly worked my way down – or rather up – their catalog; all of their titles were reissued and easily available that same year. Another all-time favorite drums/bass axis, and so much more. Malcom Mooney remains one of my favorite voices ever. While later Can made me discover Stockhausen, their early recordings opened doors for Velvet Underground, the Stooges, the Nuggets series on Elektra, or later on the Bad Seeds’ first release.

4. Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica (Reprise, 1969)

Whoever opened doors for the Mothers of Invention. I loved Freak Out, We’re Only In It For The Money, Lumpy Gravy – and then there was Trout Mask. Sounding like Delay ‘68 from a tangled-up tape, at least six electric guitars, and the bass, and the drums, and the bass clarinet and soprano, and the voice and the field recordings. One of the records I can hardly sit through, it’s way too intense.

5. Maurizio Bianchi - Mectpyo Bakterium (Dys, 1982)

After discovering the new German groups like Der Plan, DAF (Görl, one of those drummers…), Palais Schaumburg, Din-A-Testbild it was an older friend who introduced me to everything industrial. TG, Lustmord, NWW, later incarnations like Psychic TV et all, it was this LP from ‘82 that proved to last after rediscovering it some months ago. Having it’s outerworldly mass of sound crawling out of my teenage stereo was a highly disturbing and fascinating experience and today it is still magical.

6. Einstürzende Neubauten - Kollaps (ZickZack, 1981)

Hearing Kollaps for the first time in 1981 changed everything for me. In February ’82, I took a train to Bochum to see them live, supported by Malaria and Andreas Dorau. I was used to being right in front of stage for concerts, but once they started, I feared for my life. At least for the well-being of my arms, which were squashed on to the stage by the crowd, while Einheit fired heavy, rough metal disks onto a pile of long steel tubes right in front of my fingertips (and in case you never saw him back then, know that he knows how to throw several kilos worth of metal with utter fury). Their show remains (albeit seen from the very rear of the venue these days) an unforgettable event. Energie, Entladung. I slept long and deep at my aunt’s house that night.

7. Die Tödliche Doris - Liveplaybacks (Reinhard Wilhelmi, 1986)

Huge love at first sight, ever since I heard their “ “ LP. Their work, musically and conceptually, vibrates strongly in my own music. The Chöre & Soli boxset of speaking doll records + player + book is still one of the coolest releases ever. Liveplaybacks is such an amazing performance concept. Doris, publish a bottle of white wine, too, please!

8. John Coltrane - Concert In Japan (Impulse!, 1973)

I discovered jazz rather late, sometime in my mid-teens, probably through David Sylvian’s solo work, which had a double bass and trumpet. Miles’s Kind of Blue, Coltrane’s Impressions, Cecil Taylor’s Conquistador!, Ayler At Greenwich Village – and than this. Trane’s last quintet continues to blow my mind, such an intense power and beauty, drives me to tears whenever I hear it. His soprano solo on “Naima” from Live at the Village Vanguard Again! has to be one of my favorite moments in music.

9. American Primitive Vol. I: Raw Pre-War Gospel 1926-36 (Revenant, 1997)

Words fail to describe the deepness of this music. In retrospect, it was this release that made me collect 78s and mechanical gramophones. Praise the man John Fahey for putting together such a celestial selection.

10. Minoru Sato - Irregularity/Homogeneity: Emerging from the Perturbation Field (Senufo Editions, 2011)

A record that seems to say “This is pure electricity poured into a groove”. Hard to describe what happens within me once the needle catches the first sound and moves the membranes.

By Dusted Magazine

Read More

View all articles by Dusted Magazine

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.