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Matt Shoemaker - Soundtrack for Dislocation

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Artist: Matt Shoemaker

Album: Soundtrack for Dislocation

Label: Elevator Bath

Review date: Nov. 30, 2011

Matt Shoemaker would like to take us somewhere. I’m not wholly certain as to where, but on Soundtrack for Dislocation, I think that’s the point. The title of the album has nothing to do with the displacement of knees or any other joints; it’s a reference to Shoemaker’s leading of the listener on a disorienting journey to parts unknown. Shoemaker puts listeners in a very specific place, but he also keeps us in the dark: Soundtrack for Dislocation is a skillfully staged immersion of its audience into aural mystery.

Shoemaker’s strength lies in his ability to conjure immersive atmospheres. On Soundtrack for Dislocation, they’re thickly applied, and though the music belies much attention to detail, it’s the broad strokes that have the most palpable effect. The music is highly suggestive, but nebulously so, its ominous tone engendering a feel similar to a horror movie’s suspenseful lead up to a jarring jump scene. With this disc, though, there’s no resolution, no moment to exhale with a smiling sigh of relief when the scary stuff has passed. Drones and come and go, rising and falling with few sudden moves, causing the music to shift with a slow certainty, like the color on a chameleon. Soundtrack for Dislocation rewards the transient, and I find some of my most enjoyable experiences listening to the album to have occurred when I’ve been distracted, or my mind has wandered, only to be pulled back in by the music’s gloomy siren song. Anyone who’s ever engaged in any sleepwalking probably knows the feeling, that moment you come to in the darkness, uncertain of where you are or how you got there. It’s a bit like the proverbial pot, this album, for if you pay too much attention, it may never boil, but when you let your mind quiet and allow the music to do its thing, you’re liable to find yourself transported.

Soundtrack for Dislocation makes for some prime uneasy listening. It’s a great album to put on when you simply want to lie down, close your eyes, and drift away. Of course, the album’s not liable to send your mind’s eye to a white, pristine beach or some peaceful country dale. But if the sun-speckled mist and shadowy vegetation that adorn this album’s digipak seem like your kind of escape, Matt Shoemaker’s a good guy to have in the driver’s seat.

By Adam Strohm

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