[releases] afe123lcd
mathieu ruhlmann: as a leaf or a stone

  Artist: Mathieu Ruhlmann
: As a Leaf or a Stone
Format: Pro-duplicated CD-R ltd. to 100 copies in pro-printed cardboard sleeve

Tracks: 6
Playing time: 34:41
Release date: May 2010
File under: Electroacoustic / Experimental / Musique concrète

Track List:

1.  The Uttering Wire  7:27

2.  Seolak  6:56

3.  Aanden  6:19

4.  In England There Is Honey  4:19

5.  Woodlice  4:00

6.  The Intoxication of a Ball of Opera  5:29



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 worldwide - including S'agita Recordings, Mystery Sea, Spekk, Unfathomless, Taâlem and Gears of Sand - as well as contributed to several compilations.

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

After "The Earth Grows in Each of Us", released in April 2007, "As a Leaf or a Stone" Mathieu's second release on Afe. Here's a description of the album written by Will Long of Celer:

"With every beginning, raw objects come into place, and within these objects are found the essence of meaning, and inspiration. "As a Leaf or a Stone", the new album by Mathieu Ruhlmann on Afe Records, is a thriving example of the individuality of natural materials, and the sculpture of character.

Using an assemblage of instruments and raw objects, such as a coffee grinder, e-bow, denture cleaner, egg beater, ukelin, turkey baster, frying pan, shruti box (and many more), "As a Leaf or a Stone" stands as a work of creative ingenuity, finding beauty in the combination of raw materials that are characteristically regarded as mundane or lacking in spirit, and transforming them into a work that is both visually conjuring, and comfortingly familiar.

In the crisp corners of "As a Leaf or a Stone", there is an untimely captivation, as well as tincture of the homemade present, and pushing on. The evolution of the pieces is not predictable, yet is fulfilling, offering surprises of acumen, allowing for tension, discovery, and quietude. Withdrawing from the use of computers to provide any effects, Ruhlmann completes this work with a respect to the purity of the object, and maybe most importantly, freedom of the spirit."


"...For this release Ruhlmann uses a lot of sound sources and per track he lists them. We see listed a coffee grinder, ukelin, e-bow, moss, denture cleaner, bubble wrap, dried plant, cactus, speaker and gate (and that's just the opening track!)... The gain is very much alive here, so there is occasionally some feedback leaking through here. That adds a strange component to the highly acoustic music. Ruhlmann plays his stuff with great care. His music is open, spacious, but also intimate. The quiet rumbling of objects, the leak of outside sound events on the recording (as opposed to pre recorded field recordings) reminds me of Jeph Jerman or Kapotte Muziek, although Ruhlmann's plate is a bit more filled with sound than the latter. An excellent release of highly imaginative music..."
Vital Weekly [more]

"...another example of the recondite work of Mathieu Ruhlmann, the Vancouver-based sound artist who uses some highly unlikely found objects (both natural and man-made) to produce his strange and distant meditations on the overlooked and unseen sides of life. His work sits somewhere between field recording and performance (with some traces of sculpture thrown in, believe it or not) and in its quiet, unassuming way his work is always very involving..."
The Sound Projector

"On "As a Leaf or a Stone" Mathieu Ruhlmann shows us how hard it is to put a label on art. The six tracks are a perfect example of soundart in its purest form. They linger somewhere between "just" compositions made from field recordings, musique concrete, Fluxus or maybe even ambient... Each sound is being lifted from perspective as device towards a musical instrument, creating great atmospheric stories... Very intensive, very mind tingling and definitely very interesting... It wouldn't surprise me to see Mathieu Ruhlmann going towards the Touch label in the future..."

"...The first thing I should say is that "As a Leaf or a Stone" is a lot more interesting than the previous discs I heard by Ruhlmann. There is much more of a sense of listening to actual objects here, a collections of recorded things with much less post-recording effects work going on, less of an attempt to smooth everything out into one continuum and so each of the sounds used has its own voice. There are six tracks then, though to be honest I found myself listening to the CD as one long work, I barely noticed the joins. Ruhlmann lists the objects used to make the music, and they vary from the coffee grinder, denture cleaner and bubble wrap of the opening track through to the metal ball, shruti box and pondweed of the closing one. There are also field recordings here, and bits of voices, a childlike singing voice that stumbles through the end of the third piece works nicely..."
The Watchful Ear

"...Mathieu Ruhlmann offenbart mit "As a Leaf or a Stone" ein hochgradig komplexes wie anstrengendes Opus, das sich ausschließlich Individuen geben sollten, welche in Sachen Experimente vor Nichts zurückschrecken – meine absolute Empfehlung, wenn man auf diese Art der Tonkunst abfährt..."
Terrorismus [more]

"C'è in Mathieu Ruhlmann una fascinazione per l'oggetto, per la sua ordinarietà e perfino mondanità. Nelle sue mani però questi oggetti acquistano un'individualità e un carattere altri... Combinato poi al suono di strumenti veri, un ukelin, una shruti-box, e-bow, il tutto acquisisce un nuovo spirito, dove anche l'apparentemente estraneo finisce col diventare in qualche modo familiare. Quasi una scultura sonora..."
Blow Up

"I have a fondness for Ruhlmann's compositions. On the whole they're cold, austere and decidedly brittle but they're made with such an ear for a compatible sound, with such an eye for an employable object and such a will for an intractable experience that you can't help but be gladdened at their existence. On "As a Leaf or a Stone" Ruhlmann continues his mission to utilise everything in his studio / house / street / neighbourhood / country / continent and planet on one of his albums at some time or another. I counted 32 separate sound sources listed on this album including, coffee grinder, cactus, tracing paper, dried sunflower, lamp and denture cleaner and that's without including whatever he's identified as 'various vibrating objects & strings'..."
Wonderful Wooden Reasons

"...Musique concrète theorists debate whether a sound object should display the worldly baggage of its origins or should be sufficient unto itself. Ruhlmann lists the sound sources for each individual piece on the inside cover of the album, thus enabling the listener to grapple with the dilemma on his and her own. I find a curiosity about the sounds when I listen, satisfied by these credits, but being able to assign an origination label doesn't illuminate, merely permits the aural attention to refocus on other perspectives. Each of these six vignettes, ranging from four to seven and a half minutes, is a separate journey, sharing a microscopic level of amplified detail and a wonder at the hidden glories around us. Many field recording artists use processing to obscure the details, but there is so much detail here that I suspect that Leaf's sources are fairly raw, with judicious editing for each layer rather than processing the sounds beyond any recognition, an impression solidified with the epigraph from French poet Francis Ponge praising "expression on behalf of the raw object (with no a priori concern about the form of that expression)."

"Ruhlmann è artista visivo e sonoro, alla seconda apparizione su Afe Records, ma – come spesso capita – è presente su molte altre piccole etichette familiari a chi segue questo tipo di sperimentazioni. Si tratta fondamentalmente di musica concreta, realizzata registrando oggetti che fanno parte della quotidianità più bieca, quasi lo facesse (e lo farà di sicuro) apposta. Per ogni traccia, infatti, c'è scritto cos'ha utilizzato Mathieu: nella prima ci sono un aggeggio che pulisce la dentiere e quegli involucri di plastica che imballano gli elettrodomestici nuovi, che hanno quelle sferette che tutti quanti schiacciano subito con immensa soddisfazione..."

"...Fra palline d'acciaio, vetri, macinacaffè, insetti, cactus, piante seccate, tubi e altri materiali di uso più o meno comune, Ruhlmann cerca le fonti sonore che assembla successivamente per dare vita ai diversi brani e lo fa con un gusto disarmante. Se pensate che mettere insieme tracce dove rumori soft ottenuti con diversi oggetti e minimi drone che colorano il tutto sia alla portata di molti musicisti, vi state sbagliando di grosso: la capacità di calibrare le proporzioni e di lasciare il minimo indispensabile in scena è quella che fa la differenza fra gente di mestiere e compagini di disperati. Ascoltate e giudicate voi stessi. Il sound artist/designer musicista tedesco conferma di sapere ciò che fa e di farlo al meglio, tanto che nonostante i ripetuti ascolti, questo disco non mi ha mai e poi mai stufato. Un lavoro a tratti affascinante..."

"Frequently, throughout "As a Leaf or a Stone"'s six discreet tracks, there are sounds that might be the creaking, churning gears of Ruhlmann's imagination itself, the mechanized hum of another world, as Donald Fagan had it... For all my efforts to articulate the ghost-world Ruhlmann populates with his nuanced, insistent, sometimes sinister sounds, there is genuinely something ineffable here. You can hear it for yourself, something just beyond the groans, drones and plangent music. Another way of approaching the thing, the poet Ponge wrote, is to consider it unnamed, unnameable..."
Crow With No Mouth

"...Non un capolavoro forse, ma un disco i cui dettagli potrebbero sollazzare il gusto dei puristi e di chiunque non ricerchi una componente melodica né emozionale in un disco. È anche vero che gli oggetti sembrano, ascolto dopo ascolto, cantare ognuno con la propria voce, fino a raggiungere una forma di dialogo simile a un sommesso e minimale canto, come gracchianti sirene meccaniche. E quando una voce umana arriva davvero, come nella coda di "Aanden", sembra una tra le tante."
Sound and
Silence [more]

"On "As a Leaf or a Stone" Mathieu Ruhlmann shows us how hard it is to put a label on art. The six tracks are a perfect example of soundart in its purest form. They linger somewhere between "just" compositions made from field recordings, musique concrete, Fluxus or maybe even ambient... Each sound is being lifted from perspective as device towards a musical instrument, creating great atmospheric stories... Very intensive, very mind tingling and definitely very interesting... It wouldn't surprise me to see Mathieu Ruhlmann going towards the Touch label in the future..."
Connexion Bizarre

"The majority of the sound sources used in this album are what most people would usually consider to be non-musical. Bubble wrap, plants, insects, cooking utensils, glass, metal and water are among the sonic ingredients listed... Things get more mysterious at the end of "Aanden" when a soft female voice starts singing in a foreign language. The result is a puzzling piece of audio where you're not sure what you're hearing even when the answer is right in front of you..."
Foxy Digitalis

"..."As a Leaf or a Stone" esplode tutta la sua forza espressiva nelle prime tre tracce ("The Uttering Wire", "Seolak" e "Aanden") poi vira lentamente verso il futuro offrendo commistioni tra un passato tuttora pesante e il desiderio di ambire a livelli più elevati. La conclusiva "The Intoxication of a Ball of Opera" ci riporta sul sentiero classico svelando il talento di un autore appassionato di elettronica nella sua purezza assoluta e capace di infondere trasporto e intensità al suo incedere. Seguite Mathieu Ruhlmann nella direzione indicata e vi ritroverete avvolti in un magico stato di benessere..."

"...Mathieu Ruhlmann's "As a Leaf or a Stone" is as cinematic as it is intellectual with its perfectly formulated droning and clatter that's able to entice me, even being the most distracted listener when it comes to free forming and experimental sound the abstracted ambiance is flowingly musical without rhythm or melody. Frequently there are moments that purchase my attention with the unexpected sounds one might make using non-instruments, and often enough to entertain will the shifts in textures appear right as you are gratified by the sound work contained within these six tracks..."
Musique Machine

"In addition to making music, Mathieu Ruhlmann creates visual art via the handling of found materials. In 2010's "As a Leaf or a Stone" – his second outing on Afe after 2007's "The Earth Grows In Each of Us" – he tries to orchestrate the best of two worlds, eliciting psychological symbolisms connected both to the domestic and the unexplained by taking household items and pushing their essence a step further. The list of sources is abundant, comprising – among other gadgets – egg beater, coffee grinder, frying pan, plastic tube, turkey baster besides a couple of standard instruments (as “standard” as an ukelin might be considered). In little more than 34 minutes divided in six tracks, the Canadian artist manages to convey a satisfying mixture of contrasting sensations between concrete and unfathomable, which was probably the original target..."
Touching Extremes