“Hidden Name” reviewed by Gaz-Eta

Having met for the first time back in 2002 at Canada’s infamous MUTEK festival, Stephan Mathieu and Janek Shaefer developed a deep appreciation of each other’s music. Three years later, they finally performed together at the Musica Genera Festival in Poland. Few month later, they spent a whole week together in a lovely manor farmhouse in the south of England [house apparently belonged to a classical composer], where they made the sounds that make up the whole of this project. They found a box of old records in the attic and used them well. “Maori Love Songs” features some deeply moving female vocals from a scratched up record. Whether the source record actually comes from Maori or not is not the point. Point is, the piece serves as a break between long movements of sparse, stillness. Piano, clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, accordion, sitar, singing bowls, bells, voices were all used as source materials. Delicately moving passages full of drawn out cello motifs and gently harkening accordion overtones are consumed up with the sense of tranquility the two musicians must’ve been drawn to at this beautiful manor house. “Fugue” best encapsulates the feeling of the whole record. Its washed-over, stillness represents an unhurried nature the music making process was for these two men. “Belle Etoile” is a brief little dibbling on the piano that sounds distant, removed. With the sounds of the rain outside, it resembles a final concerto of a piano player who’s about to swallow some harsh poison. If anything, there are no crescendos, no downward spirals. While you feel a certain sort of melancholy and sadness, the music just is. Comparisons to ambient atmospherics of days gone by are worthless. Whoever says they’re reminded of Eno is simply not listening to the intricate details every living second offers up. Ask no questions and make no assumptions about anything from your past life. Welcome these sounds as if they were a part of your own self.

Tom Sekowski

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