Matt Shoemaker
Spots in the Sun
CD HMS 008

by Max Schaefer
April 2007

Spots In The Sun is a work of abreaction, allergy, and rejection more than it is one of will or desire. In the manner of natural disasters, a contagious virulence, a gruff sign of violence rises like a shadow over a landscape which has become too well managed. For the first half of the album, tracks themselves begin as a synergy of monochrome drones, busy sonar activity and rolling waves of static and machine noise. Pieces lead a vacuum-sealed existence and are carefully calibrated so as to allow metallic, higher frequency tones to dance around the stereo spectrum. Enclosed within this electronic bubble, however, once these dimly glowing tones and soft strikes achieve a certain mechanical rigor, that is to say, a certain performativity, these very elements turn in on themselves and, in an act of perverse self-destruction, grow teeth and blare into layers of pure electronic malevolence. Becalmed sonic vistas are slowly and meticulously contorted in vivid detail; sub-bass drones grow bloated and pop into so many needles of feedback; functional metallic clangs are torn asunder by sharp sonic flurries; while vaguely narcotic atmospheres are dyed in new colors, pushed into overdrive, and looped and contorted like an acid trip gone awry. Although unremittingly gray and austere, the album is well judged in its attack and retreat, never lapsing into a lazy molten noisescape. After a moment of tumultuous discord, though, even the steady pulsations of electronic tones and cyclical patterns of seasick chirps and squawking seem to breathe tension into the air. Gradually, more and more of the album seems marred by this erratic quality, and so the album engages in an increasingly inward gnawing, as though it were a hypochondriac devouring its own organs. With scrupulous craft, the album ends with a suicidal glint in its eye, as a tormented, gravely undulation ebbs into the ether, asserting itself in its own demise.