irr. app. (ext.)
Ozeanishe Gefühle
CD HMS 002

The Sound Projector
Issue 13, 2005
reviewed by Aaron Robertson

Few reversals in musical fortune seem to be as dramatic as that of Matt Waldron, who for many years has laboured in the sonic wilderness, alone with his demons and a bunch of recorded material that for one reason or another has failed to see the cold light of day. The last few years however have seen his star on the rise, and he seems to be in a hurry to make up for lost time. First there was the 'collaboration' with Steven Stapleton on the recent Nurse With Wound album A Chance Meeting of a Defective Tape Machine and a Migraine, and now two albums out in 2004 released under his peculiar nom de plume (this and Dust Pincher Appliances).

Ozeanische Gefühle, translates from the German as 'oceanic feelings,' a term originally coined by Freud although Waldron happened upon it whist studying the slightly bizarre work of Freud's former student Wilhelm Reich. Reich used the term to describe the natural state of every organism as connected to the world around it, no doubt in connection with his claim to have discovered a formerly unknown energy that exists in all living matter that he dubbed 'orgone.' After his move from Austria to the land of the free in 1939, Reich was generally ridiculed by the establishment; and in 1954, the FDA placed a ban on his work, ordering all his literature to be destroyed. This was followed by a prison sentence during which Reich died in 1957.

For this CD, Waldron uses Reich's ideas as a starting point for further investigations, or to be exact for a 'metonymic exercise seeking to discover that which is near a signifier.' All of which beats the hell out of me, but what I do know is that Waldron has produced an album's worth of material from just two droning soundscapes. The first, that provides the CD's title, clocks in at around 42 minutes long and is some mighty heavy listening. It also renders the second ("The Demiurge's Presumption," a mere 15 minutes by comparison) possibly redundant, but that is a small complaint in the scheme of things.

There is a definite surrealist quality in both of Waldron's albums that I've heard to date. Although he claims not to be influenced by surrealism as a movement, I can't imagine where else one comes across the working methodology of juxtaposing apparently unrelated fragments with one another, something that seems quite central to Waldron's style. Whereas on Dust Pincher Appliances that results in an album of short individual pieces that all seem to contribute to a bigger picture, here everything seems to be thrown into a blender at once to produce one large, thick sonic ooze which seems in keeping with the album's title.

The range of Waldron's source material seems astounding, but is ultimately cloaked in mystery. There are recognizable moments along the way, among which string and wind instruments feature prominently, but most of the sounds remain at least partially obscured, subordinated beneath the overall heavy droning 'sea-of-sound' effect. As with Waldron's other extant efforts, this album also seems infused with a level of intelligence that is rare amongst his contemporaries. Real thought seems to be the guiding hand that controls everything here, at no stage of the game does anything seem extraneous to Waldron's greater plan.

The influence that Waldron claims above all is the natural world, which may seem particularly apt for an album such as this. Reich is apparantly one of the people he finds this natural world embodied in, along with Kurt Schwitters, NWW man Steven Stapleton and (a little oddly me thinks) former King Crimson axe-meister Robert Fripp. To continue his already astounding emergence from obscurity, he has a planned collaboration with Stapleton in the pipeline, along with Jim Haynes from Coelacanth, whose work is already released by the small but perfectly formed Helen Scarsdale Agency.