[releases] afe097lcd
mathieu ruhlmann: the earth grows in each of us

  Artist: Mathieu Ruhlmann
Title: The Earth Grows in Each of Us
Format: CD-R ltd. to 100 copies in pro-printed cardboard sleeve
Tracks: 5
Playing time: 53:10
Release date: April 2007
File under: Electroacoustic / Experimental


Track List:

1.  Sunrings in the Ritual House  1:00

2.  Eschenau, 1976  9:00

3.  Elegy for Ivan Generalić  7:00

4.  All Will Grow Young Again  6:00

5.  Holding Light (Parts I-III)  30:00



Mathieu Ruhlmann is a visual and sound artist. He first began composing soundworks to accompany his visual art based on found material.

He has created works for various labels in Europe, Canada and the United States as well as contributed to several compilations.

He has also produced sound installations and held performances thorughout North America. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"The Earth Grows in Each of Us" was composed and recorded during Spring/Summer 2006. Instruments and sounds used on the album include: violin, piano, autoharp, accordion, bell, shruti box, voice, vinyl, wasps, seafoam, glass, tiles, fireworks, water, tree branch, metal, seedpod, pine cone, tone generator and stones.

Here's a description of the album according to Mathieu's own words:

"The main concept behind "The Earth Grows in Each of Us" was to create a soundwork addressing the regeneration of the life cycle. This work was created in 2006, the year of my 30th birthday. On this release there are five tracks. The first four track times refer to the numeric year of my birth, 1976.

So the first track is 1 minute, second is 9 minutes, the third 7 minutes, and the fourth 6 minutes. The fifth track is 30 minutes long, my age, and is separated into 3 ten minute segments (each segment representing a decade of life).

While creating these sound works, this regeneration of different life cycles became very personal. My son was just born so I was experiencing this new life and seeing his growth/generation and also during this period my sister, who is very close to me, was in a serious near death accident. So my thoughts were constantly meditating on these two elements or dichotomies and also these micro and macro cycles we experience.

Coming from a very visual art background my process or method is much aligned with how I approach a sound work. In my visual art work I collect a lot of found material and objects and use that as a structure or basis for my work very similar to my approach with sound. I am constantly collecting field recordings, found objects and sounds as well as traditional instruments to compose with.

My initial influence to creating sound works was going out to these environments to collect material for my visual art and being so drawn into these acoustic environments (railway yards, abandoned factories, mountains, old houses, etc.) that I started recording them and presenting them with my artwork. Soon I began to be more captured by the sounds and working with them.

In this release though I had a conceived idea of the piece and sought out the locations/sounds that related to the concept. Usually I try not to work under such a structure."

"The Earth Grows in Each of Us" features a beautiful artwork created by David Ruhlmann.


"...a pretty strong release of highly atmospheric music. Quite dark at times, this is certainly not music for the new age of mind. This space is top heavy, but also well-balanced and well-executed release of rich sonic tapestries."
Vital Weekly [more]

"...what struck me is the profoundly evocative aura that the composer was able to generate by using a plethora of regular instruments and more or less inanimate sources to depict states of mind that, in selected moments, had me truly reeling in streams of slow-breathing awareness. There are distinct references in several of the tracks, and "Eschenau, 1976" is in my opinion a clear homage to William Basinski's heartrending looping memorials; elsewhere, Eno-tinged recollections gratify our unconscious will of being annihilated by sorrowful stupor. Regardless of these evident influences, the high quality of sound treatment and the level of depth reached by Ruhlmann with several of his intuitions transform many sections of this CD in something analogous to a faded Polaroid, which one would like to definitively throw in the trash bin, but inevitably puts back in that old biscuit tin full of past remembrances."
Touching Extremes [more]

"While bearing your soul is on the order of the day in the pop and rock business, sound artists often find it either problematic or purposeless discussing their personal life in public. As Mathieu Ruhlman's "The Earth Grows in Each of Us" shows, that may be a shame. The contrast with his previous output is remarkable, albeit not as drastic as some may think: even though "Broken Vessels", his album on Mystery Sea, seemed an abstract universe, walking these vast fields made up of myriads of puzzle pieces always meant chasing your own shadow as well. Just like the characters of Stanislaw Lem's "Solaris", Ruhlmann knows that we are never looking for new worlds, but merely for mirrors of ourselves. But, differently than Lem, he still believes the journey serves a purpose. So, while reflection has been a constant in his oeuvre, there are certainly some changes to be noted with the arrival of "The Earth Grows in Each of Us". Firstly, of course, unamplified instruments form the bulk of the source material: Violin, Piano, Accordion, Voice, as well as recorded sounds of wasps, water and seafoam. On the web, there is a picture of Ruhlmann kneeling and sticking his microphone in between the leaves of a desert plant, trying to catch the tender branches moving in the wind. This fascination for the microcosm behind the physical world and the noises of the big city is also a deciding factor behind the overall production here..."

"Here's a very nice record I had hoped to squeeze into issue 16 of the magazine, but my crowbar-wielding capabilities failed me. "The Earth Grows in Each of Us" (afe097lcd) is an optimistic and warm statement from Afe Records in Italy (they also sent two excellent Edward Ruchalski records) and arrives in a slimline card wallet, decorated with photos and collages very suggestive of Joseph Cornell's work. Aurally, Ruhlmann seems to promise similar worlds of associative mystery and nostalgia, backed up with titles like "All Will Grow Young Again". He plays many acoustic instruments and applies his nimble fingers to lots of objects found in nature, such as pine cones and tree branches (shades of Jeph Jerman there). The overall sound surface however ends up quite heavily treated in the recording process, and emerges resembling an out-of-focus photograph. Lyrical and enchanting."
The Sound Projector

"...The music generally has a dark and progressive touch to it, especially in the thirty minute epic, "Holding Light". However even as the music does have a dark tone, it still has this sort of quality that suggests hope is on the horizon and good times are to come. Of course this album is supposed to be a document of both good and bad times from Mathieu's life so it makes perfect sense. At just a few minutes under and hour this album is an easy and relaxing ambient record that just about anyone can appreciate. Definitely recommended for the ambient enthusiasts out there."
Lunar Hypnosis

"...Tracks unfold like a whisper of preternaturally subtle energies. "Eschenau 1976" is a bell-simmering, slow pulsed nightmare of silvery shadows and tantalizingly frosty air. A similar sonic space is elaborated on, with violin and tone generator, on the penultimate "All Will Grow Young Again" and frigidly inverted on the thirty-minute closing piece, "Holding Light (Parts I-III)"... Ruhlmann's pieces are particularly attune to matters of mortality, to the very personal possibility of one's impossibility, articulated not only through basic high and lonesome sounds, but through a very careful attention to form, progression, and decay: on "Elegy For Ivan Generalic", for instance, a two note piano repetition flows naturally out of a bed of gurgling electronics, but flowers in an unexpected manner and rivets the listener with its phased harmonies that shade and glide the sound onto its last breath. In its stark and telling response to matters of death, this record assumes a singular and manifold vital presence."
Cyclic Defrost

"...I'll have to say I really sympathize with both the concept and the title at work, and even more with how they're musically approached. Good music itself means, more than often to me, a process of regeneration, without removal of the part being regenerated, but capable of transcending it - same as in same old human nature. So then, isn't it only natural that music actually dealing with so-called "regeneration" will have the reality around you slip in a hermetic (parallel?) dimension, enforcing self-abandonment while in fact serving communion, continuity? Immersion, insulation or the smothering of the bond between the "you" and the "world" can be amazing tools for raising positive awareness. That said, the fact that these 5 pieces have grown out of a distinctive theme - the one of "growing" - gives them a layer of depth not often encountered, and the touch with which Ruhlmann treats these sound assemblages always calls upon each one's sensitive imagination."
The Cookshop

"The Earth Grows In Each of Us" has a feeling of rural decline and death, of past life's effects found in abounded buildings taken over by nature and time. Feeling like a more shifting and active version of William Basinski work - with loops of stuck and decaying strings and piano melancholy - and tired ambient unfolds that are weaved with ominous bell tones, muffled voices, aged textures and distant field-recordings. This is music of yellowed dust covered photographs smiles still just showing, decaying spiderweb thickened hallways that lead to creaking unsafe staircases, windows that stare out vacantly to once children filled gardens that are now tangled with overgrowth. Ruhlmann has managed to capture very well the feeling of aged, worn out and forgotten places..."
Musique Machine [more]

"Mathieu Ruhlmann has produced some extremely interesting work in the past and one of his recent releases on Afe Records, entitled "The Earth Grows In Each of Us" has filled my ears with sweet delight ever since it's release in 2007. It's lucky for all of us listeners out there that Mathieu Ruhlmann's catalog of works is steadily expanding because his musical undertakings are quite interesting, to say the very least. For this review I wanted to concentrate my thoughts on "The Earth Grows In Each of Us", as the character of this release sets the stage for a listening environment consisting of archival drones and slow churning musical movements; both aspects of which I'm highly attracted to. In addition to that, one of the best things for me aobut this release is that it could be described as a bit "dirty," which is great. Nothing is too polished by the melancholy that Ruhlmann creates and therein lies the attraction... The sound elements at play in these pieces are wonderfully diverse and the density of the combinded layers never distracts from the underlining detail to be found there. Highly Recommended!"
Earlabs [more]

"...The album is extremely consistent as a whole, although changes from one track to the next are very slight, almost to be unnoticed. So gentle and subtle the whole album is, melancholy and meditative, but rarely threatening or sinister, it has a tendency to fade into the background and could be criticised for being slightly uneventful. This seems unfair in this line of work, and listening intently with headphones brings greater rewards as the various elements in the slowly developing pieces become more apparent. The opener "Sunrings in the Ritual House" is maybe the darkest minute of the disc, with deeper drones and mysterious voices, before "Eschenau, 1976" brings a ponderous loop with quiet chimes and a slightly too close feeling. "Elegy For Ivan Generaliç" has a repetitive yet touching piano melody and watery washes in the background, while "All Will Grow Young Again" takes a slightly more broken and dishevelled approach. Finally, the epic closer, "Holding Light" offers a pleasant blend of soothing synths over creeping and russling found sounds, growing slowly to grander movements suggesting wider spaces..."
Connexion Bizarre [more]