Stephan Mathieu - Un Cœur Simple (CD Baskaru)

The highly prolific Stephan Mathieu has been producing often stunning works of a generally electroacoustic disposition for well over a decade now. Utilising drones and fragile meshes of drifting timbres, he draws from a wide variety of sound sources, including obsolete music generators such as a wax cylinder and his beloved 78rpm records, before stuffing them through his blender of various software processes in order to create the drifting blankets of ‘morphic hum that are his signature sound. Whilst the act of mutating analogous sound sources via digital means is hardly new and is in itself a process deployed by an infinite number of artists of all persuasions these days, the end result is ultimately what counts. Stephan Mathieu’s milieu may also easily slot alongside the work of others given to honing warm and shapeshifted textures from sources seemingly at odds, but it’s hard to deny that he operates from the front line.

Un Cœur Simple includes music originally created for a play based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel of the same name (A Simple Heart, in Eng-er-lish). How this fits in with it, of course, we’ll never know, but I’d imagine a piece such as ‘Devenir Sound’, which breaks away from the atmospherics of its surroundings to combine an antiquated recording of a hymn, crackle, what seems like the chatter of Morse code and the rising of a gentle noise-storm, or ‘Félicité’, with its melodic plucked strings, birdsong and background hymn, would have been very effective. And, indeed, it is on such pieces that Mathieu’s music confidently wanders into even more interesting realms in the first instance. A whole album of such pieces would have been especially welcome. RJ.

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