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Matt Shoemaker - Erosion of the Analogous Eye

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Artist: Matt Shoemaker

Album: Erosion of the Analogous Eye

Label: Helen Scarsdale

Review date: Aug. 19, 2009

Things aren’t always what they seem. It’s not that hard to pick out analogue synthesizers, running water, and bird songs from the dense layers of sound on Erosion of the Analogous Eye, but note the title. Perhaps Shoemaker is commenting upon the toll that perceiving takes upon the organs of perception… but it’s also an apt description of the experience of listening to the three tracks on this CD.

You’ll also hear all manner of whistles, tolls, grumbles, and grinds that are not only harder to place than the aforementioned sources, but morph as you hear them. The audible process of change casts uncertainty upon what you think you recognize. If that sound started as a bell and finished as a shuddering, stone-on-stone abrasion, what’s more real? Couldn’t the realistic-sounding ring be the product of processing and not the rumble?

Doubt and questions accumulate; there’s a point during the third track. “The Analogous Eye,” where it seems that we’re hearing a naked field recording. Sticks snap, bugs whine, birds sing, and water rushes in the background. But then one bird starts repeating the same phrase over and over, unchanging; did the bird really do that or did Shoemaker loop its song? If you can’t trust the bird to be real, is that really water in the background? And that massive sound that continually swells and clarifies as it plows through wildlife to the piece’s end; is it the airplane engine it starts out resembling, the brass choir that seems to finish, or something else altogether?

However you hear it, it’s a lovely ending to a marvelous piece of organized sound. Shoemaker may challenge you to question what you hear, but he simultaneously invites the listener to accept, even surrender to his music. The album’s opening oscillations move as gradually and inexorably as a fog bank, inviting the listener to lay back and be rolled over. The reverberant metal reports that open the second piece, “Erosion B,” might have been made through violent action, but they’re both lulling and focusing. It’s all good, you won’t get hurt. Just turn it up, lay back, and wonder.

By Bill Meyer

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