The August 12 death of Seattle musician/visual artist Matt Shoemaker deeply affected many in the global experimental music community. To commemorate his music and life, Jim Haynes'sHelen Scarsdale Agency label is making available for free two of Shoemaker's albums: Spots in the Sun (2007) and Erosion of the Analogue Eye (2010) in digital and physical forms (shipping costs are added to the latter). In addition, Haynes, a musician and contributor to The Wire magazine, wrote a heartfelt eulogy to Shoemaker, which you can read after the jump.
Matt was an artist from Seattle, Washington, whose work with sound manifest as some of the most singular, densely compacted, carefully arranged, and hauntingly beautiful transmissions we have not only published but also experienced. Unfortunately, his work remains unknown to many; yet those who take the time to experience it are inevitably transfixed.
His first works were published through the highly influential Trente Oiseaux label, which helped pioneer the microsound / lowercase aesthetic at the turn of the millennium. A visionary beyond contemporary trends of the institutional avant-garde, Shoemaker never fit comfortably on that label's roster. His work radiated a blossoming intensity through the treatment of sonic phenomena. These began through the manipulated field recording, then incorporated modular synthesis exploration and later with profoundly convoluted systems of electro-acoustics that involved room resonance, feedback systems and even long slinky-esque springs. The Helen Scarsdale Agency had the enormous pleasure of publishing two works from Shoemaker — Spots In The Sun (2007) and Erosion Of The Analogue Eye (2010). Both of these albums are slippery and cryptic in their morphology, deliberately articulating sonic details while refusing any single associated set of ideas. Matt once stated, "Obviousness is my art's antithesis."
Shoemaker leaves behind an impressive catalogue that extends to our friends at Elevator Bath, Mystery Sea and the Masters Chemical Society. He was also an accomplished painter, rendering an equally quizzical visual language of molten, subcutaneously exposed figures. Few had the privilege of seeing this work as it was never exhibited, beyond his instagram channel.
Renowned microsound artists Bernhard Günter, who released Shoemaker's music through his Trente Oiseaux label, once wrote of his output: "Matt is a master in building and sustaining tension by means of changes in density of sounds and events, as well as by modifying the frequency range of the spectra used. Another interesting quality of his music is that it brings the abstractness of concrete sounds taken out of their context to consciousness."
As mentioned in a recent Culture News Slog post, fellow musicians Steve Peters, Robert Millis, and Dave Knott are trying to organize a memorial at Chapel Performance Space for Shoemaker. More info on that as the situation develops.