Attention, folks, you're in for a paradigm shift. EMERGE has become a household name in the international experimental music community as a composer mainly associated with drone and musique concrète. This album is bound to change your perception of EMERGE quite a bit. This is probably the most rhythmic release by Sascha Stadlmeier since he shelved his early project Dependenz and started to record and perform as EMERGE. And with its transparent sound and very direct compositional approach, it is both accessible and challenging at the same time.
The album, which manages to pack a variety of ideas and dramatic tension into its crisp 31 minutes, was recorded live in Poznan, Poland, in January 2018. EMERGE improvised with prepared samples and amplified objects made of various materials – hence the title – , namely wood, stone, and plastic. While the use of such basic, scratchy, even harsh sound sources is nothing new in EMERGE's work, the way in which he uses them here certainly is. They are often used to generate rhythmic loops that create downright beats, moving the piece to the brink of IDM or minimal music structures, but then collapsing such expectations by falling silent and moving into another direction altogether. While on the one hand silence is often used as a structuring medium, the drones so familiar in EMERGE only come into play as sound-effects that add colour to an otherwise monochrome palette. But this sparseness makes the compositional structure easy to hear and understand and certainly makes this album a perfect introduction for interested, yet inexperienced listeners who want to get into electroacoustic improvisation. More surprising than the rhythms, perhaps, is the direct, almost in-your-face way in which distorted voice like samples are used as a counterpoint to the live-generated sounds. They are used in dramatic gestures that almost resemble pop or rock dramaturgy, yet still are used sparingly enough so as not to become clichéd. This masterfully balanced mix of stylistic elements makes “materia” an important addition to EMERGE's large body of work, if not a milestone.
File under: Free improvisation, Real-time composition, electroacoustic music