Matthew Young

Recurring Dreams

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On composer Matthew Young's debut album, one can hear the absorption and integration of electronic music's historic and recent pasts, as well as influences from modern classical composition from the 1960s and '70s. It stands outside the context of much of what was happening in the genre during 1981 -- Brian Eno's and David Byrne's sophisticated My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Jon Hassell's Fourth World, Vol., Dream Theory in Malaya, Roedelius' Wenn Der Südwind Weht, and Kraftwerk's Computer World, to name a few. It is obvious he has been impacted by Eno's earlier solo work -- Music for Airports, Another Green World, Before and After Science -- and Cluster, Harmonia, Michael Rother's Sterntaler, et al. He has also been deeply influenced by pioneering experiments in electronic music from Paul Lansky, Morton Subotnick, David Behrman, Pauline Oliveros, etc. Using a Roland EMS Synthi AKS, a Revox A-77, and Rhodes piano, Young creates over 42 minutes in eight selections, an astonishing variety of sounds and compositional strategies that alternately employ abstraction, fixed rhythm, layered polyphonics, multivalent textures, and a disciplined use of space. There is true clarity of purpose in his ideas, from the very basic to the most sprawling. "Mistral" is an eerie collection of mapped patterns of seemingly dissociated sounds that bubble and drip -- it would have been right at home in Edward Artemiev's score for Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris. "First Blood" combines dynamic keyboard pulses, programmed rhythms, and simulated guitar patterns that somehow wed Harmonia's euphoric expressionism to the early Tangerine Dream sense of drama and the Doors' noirish use of classical and jazz keyboard voicings -- in four minutes. The title track is a short, repetitive melody that uses minimalist development in a dreamy forward and backward movement created by pitch and knob control. "Version, Inversion" does just that with its mysterious interplay of chordal statements, which pulse, jitter, and echo. The two closers are real standouts. The nearly formless, 13-minute contemplative tone poem "The Forest of Lilacs" employs brief melodic statements from synth and Rhodes amid open spaces and intimate, warm, nearly liquid tones that bridge form and formlessness with a canny sense of timing and dynamic. In the ambient closer, "Night Music," chords and single notes are elongated by gauzy echoes, not quite re-entering silence before the next ones appear as slight variants on the preceding ones. It doesn't drift, it floats. Though the piece is meditative, its warm, dark, spectral utterance sounds almost as if the stars were speaking among themselves. Recurring Dreams isn't remarkable because it breaks new ground -- it doesn't. It's Young's musicality, his unique manner of "speaking" through his idiosyncratic compositional juxtapositions, that is holistic. It makes his work not only accessible, but exceptionally appealing.

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