Ambient Electronics, Alien Worlds

January 17, 2016 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Matt Davignon appears on KPFA radio tonight (Sun. Jan. 16, 2016, between 10:00 p.m. and midnight) to discuss Pink Earth with Dean Suzuki, host of “Discreet Music.” Tune in at kpfa.org.

Matt DavignonPink Earth (self-released, 2015)

davignon-pinkearthUsing tools such as a drum machine distorted beyond recognition, Matt Davignon paints abstract landscapes at once eerie and comforting. Pink Earth is the latest in that sequence, this time aiming for a warm and relaxing vibe.

It’s lazy to describe the album’s blend of liquid chimes and mildly ominous waves as an alien world, but in this case, that’s the artist’s intent. Pink Earth is built around the concept of a team of explorers landing on an alien planet. The sounds represent the flora and fauna they discover.

Pink Earth sounds like a peaceful place. Its geography and slow-moving inhabitants are just outside the margins of human comprehension, but they’re not dangerous. The track “We came to a small clearing with insects and lizards” even opens with bird calls — a rare familiar reference — before adding some distant springy sounds, something between a bell and a radar blip.

Davignon’s source materials are well hidden under layers of mutation and distortion. As on his 2010 album, Living Things, you’d never guess that a drum machine created many of the sounds. It’s been a favorite tool if his, its pulsing twisted into the stuff of ghostly soundscapes.

For Pink Earth, Davignon added his voice to the mix, again in forms barely recognizable if at all. It’s in a tinny oscillation on “Arrival/Pink Earth,” like a static haze lingering in the air —  or maybe in the ominous dull, foreboding roar underlying “Under a moss cathedral.”

Some of my favorite sounds are generated by the drum machine. “Lepidoptera” is built around a kalimba-like tickle, non-repeating, over which a quavering tone becomes a soloing instrument or monologuing voice. “Arrival/Pink Earth” features deep chimes, like water dripping in a cave, that play against synth-like non-melodies.

Davignon describes Pink Earth as music suitable to fall asleep to. That’s true, but it also presents plenty of fuel for a wakeful imagination.

You can hear and purchase the album on Bandcamp.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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