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

cyclic defrost []
magazine, australia, april 2008

Mathieu Ruhlmann here exposes a melancholy yet refreshing approach to harmony and layering and a form of emotional sublimation that venerates the ineffability of existence. A sort of foreign, incomprehensible inky black residue has always poured through Ruhlmann's works, but its never before seemed so immediate, so animate, even lifelike.

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)".

All of these can be enjoyed for the sustained skill and ingenuity of Ruhlmann's phrasing and accentuation. There is a coloration going on here that is beyond pure numbers and an imaginatively rich implication of context that extends far beyond the garden variety.

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.

[Max Schaefer]