'Hidden Name' Stephan Mathieu & Janek Schaefer a collaboration CD

Cronica Electronica Portugal. 14th July 2006 [cat:027]

.....Buy it here!

"Hidden Name ranks among the most stunning albums heard in many years" [Massimo Ricci]
"my wife even said she'd like to be be cremated to the 'Maori Love Song' from Hidden Name (not sure how morbid that reads...), so suffice to say we're big fans".

Track listing

01. White Wings / Child Okeford >  play sample [with Real Audio]
02. Score for a line
03. Hidden Name
04. Cosmos
05. Aisle
06. Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello
07. Fugue
08. Maori Love Songs
09. Six Hills Giant
10. Belle Etoile > play sample
11. The Planets

Running time 60:00 min

Mastering by Henner Dondorf at Studio Andromeda.
Photography by Stephan Mathieu & Janek Schaefer.
Cover design by MCarvalhais [Cronica]



Release info:

Stephan and Janek met each other for the first time at MUTEK in 2002, where they performed on
the same night, and shared bills at several festivals around the world in the following years.
They discovered a mutual respect for each others work, being interested in the opposite ways they
both approach the manipulation of sound, while sharing similar ambitions.

Their first joint performance took place at the Musica Genera Festival in Szczecin,
Poland in Spring 2005 which led to them wanting to produce a project together.

A little later that year, midsummer had arrived. They spent a week in the beautifully calm, pastoral
setting of Manor Farm House, the home of a classical composer in a small village in the South of England.
Stephan and Janek made recordings using the large collection of classical and exotic instruments,
a box of records found in the attic, and made location recordings in and around the house.

Finally, they took this material to the York Music Research Center, a building specifically constructed
for the presentation of loudspeaker music. It is considered one of the best electronic music
auditoriums in the UK. They spent a week working there during the winter of 2005,
composing and editing their favourite moments which then became the album... ‘Hidden Name’.

If you would be interested in booking the duo, then please email either of us...




The Wire featured CD of the month No 2006

Vital (Holland)

Ah two busy bees, Janek Schaefer probably more at the forefront than Stephan Mathieu, but both are always to be found somewhere. This is not the first time that they work together. In 2003 they released a work that was made in a hotel room in Montreal, together with Radboud Mens and Timeblind (see Vital Weekly 379). In 'Hidden Name' they also work physically together, going to Manor Farmhouse in Child Okeford to find there a piano, clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, accordion, sitar, singing bowls, bells, voices, games and records, plus of course, being both dedicated lovers of field recordings, the surrounding itself. Afterwards the work was edited into what is now present on this CD, eleven tracks, and it damn hard to tell what is what here. There might be crackles of vinyl, or the squeaking of a door, but the vast majority is made up of densely layered patterns of recordings of the instruments. They are woven together in such a way that it is hard to tell what is what here.
it seems that roles are this: Schaefer plays anything to do with field recordings and records and Mathieu's part is playing the instruments, but also processing the latter inside the computer. Mathieu does what he does best: wave them together into a finely woven cloth of sound, that feels warm and cosy. Schaefer's addition (or starting point, depends on how these things should be seen) works very well, it makes both a contrast to Mathieu's work, but it's at the same time it gets soaked into the music, and makes a natural companion.
This is a major tour de force of eleven beauties. Great stuff from great minds.

Boomkat (UK)

'Two heads are better than one', I think that's how the saying goes, and it's never been more appropriate than here on this devastating collaborative effort from two of the most respected 'heads' in experimental music. Stephan Mathieu has been chiselling out a name for himself on the 'laptop experimental' scene for a good few years now, giving some warmth and heart to an icy-cold genre, and Janek Schaefer has been equally as caring with the world of turntable-based drone, but it's here where they finally come up with their finest and most perfect moment. 'Hidden Name' was recorded in the summer of 2005 at their friend John Tavener's house in the rural south of England, and if ever a collection of music could represent a time and a place this is it. Although the sounds might be processed beyond all recognition for the most part, the dewy atmosphere of grassy Blighty permeates through every note; you can smell the buttercups and the apple trees, hear the rustle of a dog playing in the bushes and hear birds flying overhead squawking at each other angrily. Mostly made up of processed drones, using Taveners selection of instruments as source material along with a box of old records found in the attic, it is hard for me to believe how much emotion is compressed into such a traditionally avant-garde form. Maybe it might be down to the first time I heard the album - half asleep on a couch in Portugal having been deprived of rest for a good few days I was slipping in and out of reality with 'Hidden Name' as my spirit guide. The album became almost fused with my experience, and when the dense soup of drones broke in the middle to allow for peaceful environmental recordings before jumping into the final act it was like the heavens themselves had opened. This is an incredible record and easily one of the best of its kind - drone fans don't sleep, you might not have seen this hyped all over the internet but my my it's something truly special indeed. Essential purchase!

Loop.cl (Chile)

... a stunning soundtrack for a wide open space charged with a nostalgic feeling that draws a beautiful soundscape.

Gaz-eta (Poland)

Having met for the first time back in 2002 at Canada's infamous MUTEK festival, Stephan Mathieu and Janek Shaefer developed a deep appreciation of each other's music. Three years later, they finally performed together at the Musica Genera Festival in Poland. Few month later, they spent a whole week together in a lovely manor farmhouse in the south of England [house apparently belonged to a classical composer], where they made the sounds that make up the whole of this project. They found a box of old records in the attic and used them well. "Maori Love Songs" features some deeply moving female vocals from a scratched up record. Whether the source record actually comes from Maori or not is not the point. Point is, the piece serves as a break between long movements of sparse, stillness. Piano, clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, accordion, sitar, singing bowls, bells, voices were all used as source materials. Delicately moving passages full of drawn out cello motifs and gently harkening accordion overtones are consumed up with the sense of tranquility the two musicians must've been drawn to at this beautiful manor house. "Fugue" best encapsulates the feeling of the whole record. Its washed-over, stillness represents an unhurried nature the music making process was for these two men. "Belle Etoile" is a brief little dibbling on the piano that sounds distant, removed. With the sounds of the rain outside, it resembles a final concerto of a piano player who's about to swallow some harsh poison. If anything, there are no crescendos, no downward spirals. While you feel a certain sort of melancholy and sadness, the music just is. Comparisons to ambient atmospherics of days gone by are worthless. Whoever says they're reminded of Eno is simply not listening to the intricate details every living second offers up. Ask no questions and make no assumptions about anything from your past life. Welcome these sounds as if they were a part of your own self. - Tom Sekowski

Jazz e Arredores

O sonho antes de acordar, quando as formas começam a ganhar contornos e a consciência começa a organizar os últimos fiapos de matéria irreal. Em “Hidden Name”, Stephan Mathieu e Janek Schaefer, cúmplices de anteriores apresentações públicas, como os festivais MUTEK/2002 (Canadá) e Musica Genera/2005 (Polónia), tornam perceptível essa passagem de forma plasticamente sedutora, oscilante e circular no movimento cíclico de ampla e planante espacialização. A acção passa-se no meio das paisagens naturais e ambiente bucólico de que beneficiaram os artistas aquando da estadia conjunta no Verão de 2005 na Manor Farm House, uma cottage propriedade de um compositor de música clássica, situada algures no Sul de Inglaterra.
No local, Stephan Mathieu e Janek Schaefer usaram instrumentos acústicos e electrónicos, e gravações de campo. O som foi posteriormente tratado no York Music Research Center, estúdio em Inglaterra tecnologicamente apetrechado para o efeito. Do trabalho de composição, montagem e edição resultou uma música carregada de sugestões pastorais envoltas em finas camadas de neblina, que ora ameaça chuva eminente, ora anseia pelo sol que a há-de dissipar.
Na mistura é possível identificar estática e estalidos de discos vinyl, vozes humanas, canto de pássaros e uma infinidade de camadas sobrepostas de sons instrumentais (piano, violino, clarinete, violoncelo, flauta, acordeão, cítara, sinos…), transformados, processados e harmonizados em estúdio, via computador. Há aqui uma interessante dimensão conceptual de corpos em suspensão, que se vão transformando lentamente, texturas unidimensionais que se tornam progressivamente mais complexas ao sabor de movimentos lentos e formalmente despojados, em que o que conta sobretudo é a tensão que prenuncia algo que está para acontecer. O mistério adensa-se e permanece por desvendar, por muito que se ouça “Hidden Name”,
um disco especial.

Bad Alchemy (Germany)

Hidden Name (Crónica 027), eine Zusammenarbeit von STEPHAN MATHIEU & JANEK SCHAEFER, entstand in Manor Farmhouse, Child Okeford, dem südenglischen Domizil von Sir John Tavener, Englands Echo auf die spirituellen Musiken von Strawinsky, Messiaen und Pärt. Die Erklärung dafür liefert der Mädchenname von Taveners Ehefrau Maryanna - Schaefer. Janek Schaefer, Jahrgang 1970, hat sich seit Mitte der 90er zunehmend profiliert als Fieldrecorder und Turntablist mit einer Reihe von Releases auf (K-RAA-K)3, FatCat, Audiosphere, SIRR.ecords und dem eigenen AudiOh!-Label und nicht zuletzt durch seine Kollaborationen mit Robert Hampson (Comae, 2001) und Philip Jeck (Songs For Europe, 2004). Mathieu, 1967 in Saarbrücken geboren, spielte Ende der 90er Drums & Electricity mit Stol (w/ Olaf Rupp), bevor er sich auf die Electronic konzentrierte und beginnend mit Wurmloch Variationen (2000) und weiteren Veröffentlichungen bei Ritornell, Brombron & Korm Plastics, Lucky Kitchen, Fällt, Mutek, BiP HOp, Häpna oder ebenfalls SiRR.ecords sich als Landschaften- und Atmosphärendigitalisierer profilierte. Der dröhnminimalistische Zusammenschluss mit Schaefer ist getränkt mit der Ferienstimmung im idyllischen Child Okeford und nutzt auch Taveners Sammlung von LPs und Instrumenten, klassischen wie exotischen (Sitar, Singing Bowls, Bells), um die Erfahrungen und Stimmungen dieser Woche einzuschmelzen. Auf Taveners Spuren entklingt ein ’Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello', eine ’Fugue', das verregnete ’Belle Etoile'. Die weißen Schwingen des Sounds tragen einen ans andere Ende der Welt (’Maori Love Songs'), ab in den ’Cosmos', zu ’The Planets', auch wenn dazu nur ein Tonarm durch LP-Rillen furcht. So scheint sogar Sir Taveners Faszination durch Blake und Russisch-Orthodoxe Mystik mitzuschwingen in Hidden Name (Laurent Mettraux hat 2002 sein mystisches Oratorium ebenfalls Le Nom Caché genannt), wenn Mathieu & Schaefer uns niederknien lassen vor dem Throne of Drones - jeder Ton ein Nachhall des Urklangs Om/Aum. Bevor dieser feinstoffliche Wurmbefall mich innerlich verflüssigt, schnell eine Radikalkur - Stols 1996er Debut-3" Semi Prima Vista z.B., mit Olaf Rupp & Rudi Mahall!

Textura (Canada)

Having issued joint projects with Ekkehard Ehlers (Heroin) and Douglas Benford (Reciprocess +/vs. vol. 2), Stephan Mathieu is no stranger when it comes to collaborative undertakings. Textural sound sculptor Janek Schaefer is an equally natural partner for Mathieu which is indubitably borne out by the quietly magnificent Hidden Name. Having met in Montreal at MUTEK 2002, the two convened a few years later to spend a week at Maryanna and John Tavener's home, Manor Farm House, located in Child Okeford in the South of England. Drawing from a wealth of sounds produced from instruments (piano, clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, accordion, sitar, singing bowls, bells, voices), records, and on-site field recordings, the two recorded material which they then reconfigured at the York Music Research Center during the winter of 2005 into the 11 settings on Hidden Name.

Originating sounds are sometimes rendered unidentifiable, but Hidden Name's settings are full-bodied and dense with detail. The myriad sound sources coalesce into gently flowing washes of vinyl crackle and hypnotic ripples pierced by bells, tones, and pizzicato strings. One of the album's most distinguishing features is the contrast that emerges from one piece to the next: “Cosmos” resembles an aviary tour, with the sounds of pigeons cooing, birds chirping, crows cawing, and roosters calling dominating; “Quartet For Flute, Piano And Cello” suggests an ancient vinyl recording discovered in an attic, dusted off, and played on an equally archaic turntable; and the entrancing weave of female voices in “Maori Love Song” recalls Akira Rabelais's mesmerizing Spellewauerynsherde. Equally uncharacteristic, all of the album's pieces are generally short (two to seven minutes) except for the closer, a 20-minute dreamscape entitled "The Planets". Though the resultant recording camouflages the differences in the artists' individual working methodologies, Hidden Name also unites their strengths into a single set. In this particular case, the pastoral setting clearly worked some powerful magic.

Bodyspace (Portugal)

Por motivações supostamente históricas, não surpreende que tenha sido o cinema norte-americano a instituir a Ocidente a noção de que um fantasma tem de equivaler forçosamente a uma presença maligna - sempre pronta a atormentar criancinhas e a demover residentes de se mudarem para um casebre sustentado por pregos enferrujados. Em contraponto a essa simplificação, o cinema oriundo do Japão diferencia-se pela variedade de qualidades atribuídas aos seus fantasmas – não existe polarização que os impeça de serem benignos, entranhados num terreno ou apenas dedicados a uma vigilância passiva. A partir de uma localização Europeia neutra, os magos Stephan Mathieu e Janek Schaefer desenvolveram um método absolutamente plausível de enclausurar num disco o que se ressente à presença de um fantasma criativo, que, neste caso, sobreviveu à presença em vida de um compositor clássico numa quinta situada no sul de Inglaterra. Ocuparam-se os dois de resgatar ao pó de um sótão instrumentos como o clarinete, flauta, piano e trompete (quase sempre, indistinguíveis ao ouvido), somar os sons captados a partir desses e field recordings extraídos a toda a área, e, em processo laboratorial de estúdio, aproveitar para a substanciação do fluxo o que de mais essencial representasse uma presença carismática e espiritualmente densa na dita propriedade.

Dito assim, quase parece Hidden Name um disco esotérico para servir ao transcendentalismo moderno a que almejam todos os produtos tendenciosamente new age ou aqueles promovidos pela Maya em serviços publicitários mais obscuros. Nada mais errado. Hidden Name aborda essencialmente o processo de privação que pode eventualmente sofrer um lugar, que comporta as suas próprias mudanças e historial. Fá-lo ponderadamente a partir do reaproveitamento de um espaço, que em tempos conheceu avidamente música clássica e que agora proporciona a acústica certa à suspensão demorada das caudas sónicas – entretanto tornadas imperturbavelmente horizontais – obtidas a partir da execução dos referidos instrumentos, que, pontualmente, vêem o seu sonambulismo perturbado por sons recuperados à fauna animal que circunda a zona como abutres oriundos do além e outras texturas mais granulares repescadas a empoeirados e crepitantes discos em vinil (Schaefer é um vanguardista inconformado com as limitações convencionais do formato). E tudo isto procede-se com base numa filtragem sensível do que mais bucólico, intemporal e representativo do seu ambiente de origem pode libertar um acervo de recursos que, na prática, nunca correspondem musicalmente ao que se espera deles (não há como diagnosticar qualquer ortodoxia a “Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello”). Em certas alturas, as manipulações de Mathieu e Schaefer projectam em tal órbita os sentidos, que passa o suporte físico do disco a parecer um fardo por contraste com o estado graciosamente gasoso do som em si.

No enquadramento dos exercícios mais lineares, torna-se especificamente proibitivo invocar o adjectivo ambient, quando as formas isométricas parecem verter – em espiral - a sua constituição para dentro de um poço sem fundo - a que não se escutam ecos, repercussões conclusivas do início de um qualquer movimento. Até porque Hidden Name não impõe balizas aos seus corpos alheados de pressão gravítica ("The Planets", por exemplo, é gloriosamente infinito e impossível de ser fragmentado), limitando-se a oferecer uma oportunidade temporalmente cronometrada de se avaliar o que produz a ressonância fantasmagórica que, em tempos, estigmatizou o espaço ao qual foi gravado um som no seu estado bruto para servir ao presente disco.

Além da infinidade de leituras que oferece a quem nele se atrever a aventurar, Hidden Name anula quaisquer reticências que pudessem pairar sobre as certezas de que este tem sido um ano abundantemente generoso (e beneficamente imprevisível) por parte da portuense Crónica (se exceptuarmos o meio-deslize – formalmente justificado – verificado no disco de Gintas K) e de que é prioritário acompanhar o desafiante percurso que vem a percorrer, desde há dez anos, o infalível Janek Shaefer, que, entre tantos outros pontos altos, já havia explorado o potencial claustrofóbico do espaço de Serralves numa performance que tratou de documentar a Sirr em Black Immure: music from the Casa of Serralves. E quem já andou por Serralves, sabe bem como é doloroso virar-lhe as costas num domingo solarengo. Nessas ocasiões, tal como nas que se verificam à escuta de Hidden Name, sobram os fantasmas e o comportamento que esses assumem. Hostil ou pacifico, conforme a percepção de cada um.

Touching Extremes (Italy)

There are times in which the real, essential beauty of a sound is better discernible through its misshapen version. Its hidden harmonic contents suddenly appearing before our ears like an acoustic aurora borealis. There is also a good chance that the very spirit of that sound then emerges even more clearly. By discarding its potential role as a part of a structure to simply enjoy its mind healing power through physical gratification, and a process of sheer repetition. This kind of result is usually achieved by the best minimalism, a quest for a complete mental void (in the positive meaning of the term).

"Hidden name" is an album that joins the crux of all the above. Mathieu and Schaefer used a series of instruments (including piano, clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, accordion, sitar singing bowls and bells) plus field recordings, voices, games and found records, to generate elongated layers of static chords, environmental reflections, heartbreaking parabolas and nostalgic juxtapositions of ancient melodies and vinyl noise, which they later edited to create this absolute masterpiece.

The eleven pieces are not linked in a single suite, yet maintain a visible coherence that blends their core meaning in a unique whole. The sources are manipulated in spectacular fashion. A bell tower is the basis for a quivering slow loop in "White Wings", which is then engulfed by a muffled mix of instruments. Pizzicato strings are repeated ad infinitum in "Aisle". A piece called "Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello" surprises the listener with a Jon Hassell like concoction that seems to be reproduced by a cassette player forgotten in a subterranean cell, then ends with the most menacing low-
frequency throbs one can conceive. "Maori Love Songs" is a postcard from a world that I just can't imagine exists, voices wailing in absurd arrangements of rhythm guitars and inhuman reverberations. "Fugue" is a chorale that one would like to use during the body-to-soul transition while tripping to eternal silence. The finale, "The planets" is the longest track at more than 19 minutes, and is an emotional detachment of sorts but works as a conceptual link between our will to penetrate the unknown and the acceptance of our uselessness, all the while remaining suspended in never ending galaxies that nod to Yes' "I get up, I get down" from "Close to the edge" (those who will laugh at this reference are hopeless nincompoops, I really mean it). Stephan Mathieu and Janek Schaefer have created music that really made me feel moved by a special kind of grace, and that also touched me very deeply. To be listened to for many decades to come, "Hidden name" should be an example for many pretenders, a good reason to put laptops away and start listening to life itself.

Blow Up (Italy)

Foto di una tenuta nella brughiera del sud dell'Inghilterra. È la Manor Farmhouse di Child Okeford, residenza di un compositore colto britannico non meglio identificato, il luogo dove Stephan Mathieu e Janek Schaefer hanno realizzato gran parte del materiale basico che va a costituire questa prima collaborazione vera e propria tra i due. Le registrazioni ivi improvvisate con strumenti acustici, suoni d'ambiente, giochi e dischi trovati in loco sono state poi processate, editate ed assemblate successivamente presso lo York Music Research Center, uno studio specializzato in progetti di diffusione e spazializzazione del suono. Ne vien fuori un disco di asciutta bellezza, fosco e nebbioso, intriso dello stesso umore a un tempo grigio e pastorale delle condizioni logistiche e ambientali che l'hanno ispirato, una musica densa e melmosa, a tratti vicina alle atmosfere severamente colte di "The Sad Mac" ma pure ravvivata dalla pura invenzione timbrica, da un piccolo scricchiolio o da quel cinguettare d'uccellini messi lì quasi per caso. Fino a librarsi nell'armonia praticamente infinita e nella riverberazione ultraterrena dei venti minuti scarsi della conclusiva The Planets. (8/10) Nicola Catalano

Richard Chartier (USA)

IT'S SOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL. been listening to it on repeat...

Octopus (France)

Grand témoin des passerelles entre la création contemporaine, la musique et le multimédia nées de la révolution numérique, le label Crónica fait son état de l’art. Avec Hidden Name, l’étonnant label-media, comme il aime à se définir, nous livre une de ses cartes blanches proche de la perfection, tant la magie de Stephan Mathieu et Janek Schaefer est opérante.

Faire les choses simplement, livrer le réel en le dévoilant dans ses aspects les plus intimes : l’approche choisie par les deux musiciens que pourtant tout oppose dans la manipulation sonore, est une merveille de calme, de beauté et de volupté pastorale. L’épaisseur et la richesse de la matière sonore est composée de prises de son dans le manoir d’un petit village du sud de l’Angleterre, et de savantes incursions dans le catalogue sonore du York Music Research Center. S’ajoutent interférences radiophoniques, drones, field recordings, mélodies dissimulées, modulations sonores de fins de fréquences et autres bizarreries des ondes arrangées avec des plages d’instruments plus traditionnels (piano, clarinette, violoncelle, flûte, trompette, accordéon, sitar, cloches), qui contribuent à des effets d’orchestration d’une grande délicatesse. Quelques jeux d'enfants et bruissements de pas retentissent également au fur et à mesure que l'air s'engouffre par les fenêtres grandes ouvertes du manoir, la présence de la nature au cœur de l'intimité de la vie des Hommes est chaleureuse, bienveillante. On est bien. L’étendue de Hidden Name dépasse largement les limites de l’enregistrement qui finit perdu dans une discothèque de connaisseur. Il n’y a qu’à fermer les yeux et laisser lentement s’écouler le temps pour en prendre conscience.

Cracked (Austria)

prefer to listen to this CD with the windows wide open, fresh air streaming in and the noises of the outside world mixing with the soundscapes and noises on the CD. Somehow “Hidden Name” invites the wide open space of life and living nature or cities into its soundworld to fuse into a invisible collage of the real and the synthetical, the random and the prepared. Maybe green pastures or rural villages would be more fitting to the setting and the production surrounding of this gem (Schaefer and Mathieu recorded the basic sounds in an old house in the countryside of Southern England, a house owned by an old classical composer and using all the instruments, records and field recordings they could get ahold of there) but for instance when a truck was backing up outside, the rhythmical peeping of its warning signal mixed perfectly with the warm streaming minimalism of the title track. Sometimes the noise of a streetcar is drowning out the sounds from the speakers but that is okay. I can relisten to “Hidden Name” over and over again.

Mathieu and Schaefer are no unknown figures and they have worked together before as well. They have a history of diving deep into sound and of forming impressive sound sculptures from thin air. “Hidden Name” is a more subtle and sensitive approach, with the fine atmosphere of the place they recorded in still audible and with the overall structure of the tracks more fragile and thin. Like early morning fog or a light breeze rustling the leaves in the trees. Movements and dynamics are slow, there are no harsh surprises or startling effects. The stylistic range goes from minimal soundscapes that flow in a steady tone with a multitude of overtones to field recordings documenting special moments. Well, more like moments that stand out by their simplicity and emotional singularity rather than their objective global importance, like a walk in the woods with the birds singing and the dead leaves rustling under the boots (as at the end of “Cosmos” – the title and the sounds giving the track enhanced meaning). Such small and simple moments are what make life reach and pleasant and should be enjoyed, because they are a bonding moment with nature and life itself. Very much unlike the big time, made it to the top moments with thousand people applauding, which are artificial and loaded with importance by society or publicity and thereby, by definition, false.

Well, some of the sounds by itself aren’t that pleasant or soothing as the simple life in a small village can be. The crackling and rustling of turntablism by itself is not a pleasant sound (especially for someone caring for his vinyl records and treating them like little babies) as are certain woodsaw-like or machinery sounds (for instance appearing interestingly on a track called “Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello), but for one, the same is true for street noise like traffic, wind, construction work, etc, to which I like to listen when they are mixed and the sun is shining. And for second, it is the setting and usage of sounds that defines their aesthetical value not vice versa – even if the two are regularly switched by most regular people. Moreover these sounds are mixed into the whole of the album in the same subtle and fragile manner, so that they don’t stand out in any way. The flow of the album is not broken down, quite the other way round you will suddenly find yourself listening to strange or unpleasant sounds and enjoying them just as much as the gentle and soothing waves of tones before.

The scope of these two artists is fascinating. Right in the middle of “Hidden Name” the listener is surprised with vocal sounds of the “Maori Love Songs”, seemingly taken from an old record and re-mixed, but not so much as would be directly audible. A vocal piece contrasting the traditional wild and weird Maori Chants in an almost modern harmonic fashion. It is just a short intrusion, but a pleasing one. (Very much like the kids voices suddenly appearing outside. But that is a different story.) I said, there were no harsh sounds or effects surprising the listener, I didn’t say there were no suprises at all. In fact, there is so much on this record you might want to listen to it again and again in different kinds of settings and in different areas just to make sure you are hearing them right. Just wait for the final track “The Planets”, which will make you play the album again (or switch to Greg Headly’s “operation of the heavens” by way of similar subject.)

Neural (Italy)

Ulteriore progetto collaborativo di Stephan Mathieu & Janek Shaefer, dopo l'esperienza al Mutek in Canada, nel 2002, prima occasione nella quale i due artisti hanno avuto modo d'incontrarsi, presto seguita l'anno successivo dalle registrazioni con Radboud Mens e Timeblind e dalla performance del 2005 in Polonia al Musica Genera Festival. Produzione ideata e messa a punto nel sud dell'Inghilterra, in una casa di campagna appartenuta ad un compositore classico (così si racconta), dove i nostri hanno rinvenuto una scatola di vecchi vinili, poi utilizzati nei passaggi assai dilatati ed ellittici, movimenti ricorrenti che nella struttura complessiva riportano ad uno stato di calma apparente, sospeso ed onirico. Agli strumenti tradizionali si sovrappongono sitar, risuonanti campanelle, sparute voci e field recording, sonorità d'una bellezza algida e sobria, poi nuovamente editate al The York Music Research Center, auditorium ben conosciuto per le sue non comuni qualità acustiche.
Aurelio Cianciotta

Rocklab (Italy)

Inizia così, alle frontiere dello spazio uditivo, in una intensità pervasiva che in qualsiasi modalità di ascolto interferisce e penetra lo spazio acustico che ci circonda, caratterizzando il paesaggio sonoro nella trasfigurazione semantico-strutturale ricalcata dalle suggestive atmosfere della campagna inglese. É senz'altro il field recording la matrice da cui Mathieu e Schaefer prendono il largo
(tuttavia in maniera non del tutto impressionista) per poi delicatamente tratteggiare le linee sfumate ed ultrasottili della loro poetica, tutta fatta di immagini sonore inafferrabili che disperdono il loro referente nell'inconsistenza della materia: la nebbia. Non è necessariamente l'ennesimo incontro tra musica e ambiente e neppure una sua restaurazione, non ha nulla di nostalgico, ne nasconde una deriva concettuale al suo interno, ma è semplicemente la risultante di una ricerca estetica portata al suo massimo grado, levigata, scolpita sin nel minimo dettaglio. Sembrerebbe neanche essere la testimonianza di una fusione a freddo di diversi marchi di fabbrica o l'elaborazione ex novo di uno stile in via di definizione... le undici tracce di 'Hidden Name' hanno davvero qualche pretesa in più, tra le quali quelle di essere ascoltate e con molta molta attenzione.

Chain D.L.K.

After meeting at the MUTEK Festival in 2002, sharing the bills on various festivals all over the world and a previous collaborative effort in 2003 along with Radbound Mens and Timeblind ("Quality Hotel" out on the Mutek label), Stephan Mathieu and Janeck Schaefer decided to spend some days together in the home of a classical composer in the English countryside and there they recorded a huge amount of material that they later reprocessed and assembled in York Music Research Center. Basically Mathieu plays all the instruments and Schaefer does all the field recordings and in most of the tracks you can recognize both artist's distinctive trademarks but sometimes the symbiosis works so well and results in a new, unorthodox glitch-psychedelia. The highlight here is the sixth track called "Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello", where you can hear pops and crackles of a worn-out vinyl over a complex sound patchwork somehow resembling Ehlers' "Plays" series. Due to its amazing sound quality it surely sounds better through loudspeakers rather than headphones. Recommended.

Sonic Arts Network

Lonely spinning giants from the experimental scene (tm): German Stephan Mathieu and English Janek Schaefer share their common interest of devouring a manicured history of pasty white memories and a soup of gossamer sounds, on ‘Hidden Names’.

Recorded during the winter of 2005 in a Victorian void in the South of England (Manor Farm House located in Child Okeford), the two locked horns and kicked around the empty house. Amongst sun yellowed picture frames, scent heavy doors, rose coloured walls they made field recordings and used old records found in the attic of the house.  They took a week to make this collection of heavenly orchestrated noise, of crackling hidden melodies which tease out of the cloth of the speakers like Lazarus resurrected.

Nostalgia bleeds and feeds in these 11 pieces.

‘White Wings’ is a whirl of topes that cut off the world, making it a disastrous thing to stop listening, just in case that these wires might send the heart a message of WHY. The Victorian void of enlightenment is cascaded further on ‘Comos’. This is a sound piece that creates a vision of a fleshly aviation menagerie, a bird version of Waco. Clashing pigeons, cooing sweeps, set against crows cawing, and roosters calling for an end to all mankind with its misunderstanding of bird flu and the cull that ensued. The birds here are Hitchcockian and non fading.

‘Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello’ is a love song for the most unrequited moments in a lost room. Its see through fingers glide over ancient vinyl recordings, attic dust, and an automatic invisible turntable. It cements the territory that was pinned out previously as it confidently strides under black umbrellas instead of the silent tip toeing giggled at before. Amazing.

‘Maori Love Song’ is a jazz funeral for Mary Shelly trapped in a cryogenic cell as Walt Disney tries to romance her with puppet strings.

We are left squinting at the last track ‘The Planets’. This camouflages a sunrise under the atmospheres of individual working methodologies, and looks back at a time gone by when the sun on Albion was pure, the breeze contained no fear and men like Xavier De Maistre journeyed around their room; internal explorer becomes external tourist.

Clearly this is a device of time travel disguised as a CD.

Basebog [Italy]

Piccole etichette crescono: la portoghese Cronica, con base a Porto, sfoggia nel suo catalogo il nuovo lavoro del sodalizio tra Stephan Mathieu e Janek Shaefer, una collaborazione navigata da anni di porformance (si ricorda la loro prima a Mutek 2002) e che ora si cristallizza in una produzione elegante e preziosa. ‘Hidden Name’ è stato registrato in una casa di campagna nel sud dell’Inghilterra (forse quella in copertina?), e sfoggia in 12 tracce l’esperienza di due interpreti d’eccezione della sperimentazione elettronica: il primo, Mathieu, di estrazione più colta e storicista, il secondo Shaefer, sorta di gigione della sperimentazione, ricordato per le performance con trenini su piatti multipli.
Rappresentazione quasi impressionistica in suoni, in tutto l’album viene condotto all’inverosimile l’allungamento di linee melodiche all'apparenza confuse, che divengono irriconoscibili per dilatazione. Le frequenze risuonano senza eccessi con la naturalezza di fasci di luce che penetrano lentamente tra oggetti in chiaroscuro. Si dice che la casa dove ‘Hidden Name’ è stato composto fosse appartenuta ad un compositore classico, del quale Mathieu e Shaefer avrebbero recuperato ed utilizzato alcuni vinili. Quasi organistica la traccia che da’ il titolo all’opera, corale e commovente grazie ad un lirismo che non ha nulla di introverso o asettico. Sembra questa, musica suonata, e qui sta forse il suo pregio. Un suono denso e pieno percorre tutto l’album, con l’innesto di rumori bianchi vecchia maniera e campionamenti ambientali soltanto accennati, campane e campanellini, legni, vecchi pianoforti scordati e piedi strascicati. L’ambiente bucolico risuona anche nelle due tracce speciali ‘Cosmos’, dedicata al mondo degli uccelli e la straodinaria ‘The Planets’, sorta di novella breve in 20 minuti, che pare un sogno lucido, o la creazione dell’estro di un bimbo. Memorabile anche ‘Quartet For Flute, Piano And Cello’, colonna sonora di un dormiveglia nella mattina brumosa. Un disco magico e salutare, che riporta l’elettronica in luoghi normalmente distanti ma dove, per vocazione tecnica, in realtà trova una sua collocazione estetica precisa ed appagante per l’ascoltatore.

Liability [France]

En terme d'ambient, peu aujourd'hui arrivent à faire évoluer un genre qui semble être rendu à un point de non-retour. Cela n'empêche en rien de voir nombre de disques sortir et qui ont bien souvent cette beauté glaciale et l'imprégnation d'espaces sonores infinis. Stephan Mathieu et Janek Schaefer se sont fait depuis plusieurs années déjà des spécialistes de ces plongées en apnée qui se révèlent être toujours aussi fascinantes même si, à chaque fois, on pense avoir tout entendu sur la question. Les deux hommes se sont rencontrés pour la première fois en 2002 lors du Mutek, le "festival international de musique, son et nouvelles technologies" qui a lieu tous les ans à Montréal, et se sont suivis dans différents évènements musicaux par la suite. Finalement, c'est l'année dernière, lors du Musica Genera Festival (Pologne), qu'ils ont décidé d'allier leurs talents pour un projet commun. Ils entreprennent alors de s'enfermer pendant une semaine dans un manoir du sud de l'Angleterre (le Manor Farm House qui n'est autre que la demeure John Tavener) en utilisant toute forme d'instruments qu'ils pouvaient trouver. Ainsi Mathieu et Schaefer ne se sont pas contentés d'enregistrer de longues nappes électroniques mais ont usé de nombreux instruments acoustiques en même temps que des enregistrements sonore comme la simple respiration d'un individu ou des sons environnementaux pris au petit matin.

Donc oui, Hidden Camera est principalement un disque d'ambient mais pas seulement. Il intègre dans son processus des ingrédients propres aux concepts de la musique acoustique, balayant ainsi le cliché éculé d'une musique rectiligne et sans beaucoup d'âme. Hidden Camera, bien qu'introspectif, se revèle être beaucoup plus chaleureux qu'il n'y paraît. Il distille une musique enrobante qui, avec ses différences de tonalités, amène l'auditeur à se plonger pleinement dans cet univers aussi curieux qu'envoûtant. La rencontre entre Stephan Mathieu et Janek Schaefer a donc porté ses fruits. Mais pouvait-on en douter tant ils ont marqué de manière importante le genre ces dernières années en multipliant les projets les plus audacieux ?

Etherreal [France]

Stephan Mathieu et Janek Schaefer, deux artistes habitués de ces pages, mais que l'on aimerait aussi croiser un peu plus souvent, et cet album va d'ailleurs nous faire regretter de ne pas les voir plus régulièrement en concert. Histoire de les (re-)situer, Stephan Mathieu était un habitué du label Ritornell, plus récemment croisé chez Häpna, musique ambient puisant son inspiration tous azimut (field recordings, instruments acoustiques, électronique). Janek Schaefer quant à lui marque généralement les esprits par ses concerts avec une platine vinyle à deux bras, travail de mixage, tonalité ambient pour lui également.

Il était finalement normal que les deux hommes se rencontrent et se trouvent des points communs. Se croisant à différentes occasions, concerts et festivals, ils jouent ensemble pour la première fois au printemps 2005, et ce premier essai leur donne envie de poursuivre cette collaboration. Quelques mois plus tard ils passent une semaine ensemble au sud de l'Angleterre, dans la maison d'un compositeur de musique classique, trouvant là de nombreuses sources sonores (piano, violoncelle, trompette, clarinette, disque trouvés dans le grenier) auxquels s'ajoutent des field recordings effectués aux alentours de cette maison.

Que ceux qui seraient allergiques à certains des instruments précédemment cités se rassurent, les traitements sonores rendent souvent ceux-ci méconnaissables. Presque tous les sons opèrent dans un même mouvement, un même objectif qui consiste à créer de grosses nappes oscillantes, aux harmoniques riches, un son envoûtant, occupant tout l'espace sonore. Qu'elles soient composées de courtes boucles répétitives ou d'une seule et même nappe, chacune des onze pièces de cet album est un petit bijou aux milles éclats, une mer infinie aux mouvements incessants. Chaque nappe est composée de plusieurs éléments qui ont leur vie propre et procurent un renouvellement incessant. Parfois quelques bruitages rompent une éventuelle monotonie, des field recordings placés au premier plan comme un clocher sur les deux premières pistes, les craquements de vinyles apportent une certaine chaleur, quelques extraits de vieux disques se distinguent sur Quartet For Flute, Piano and Cello au final particulièrement sombre, mais le bouquet final reste The Planets, une pièce de près de 20 minutes d'ambient ample et planante.

On ne s'attendait pas à voir ces deux "têtes d'affiche" chez Cronica, et cet album est effectivement un disque à part sur le label portugais. Mais Hidden Name occupera aussi une place à part dans notre discothèque. Disque indispensable. [Fabrice Allard]

Concert review from the Van Abbe Museum 14th Jan 007 [Netherlands]

Geluidskunstenaars Janek Schaefer en Stephan Mathieu verbleven in de zomer van 2005 in het buitenhuis van de Britse componist John Tavener om te werken aan een gezamenlijk muziekproject. Behalve platen en instrumenten die ze hadden meegenomen, werkten ze ook met opnamen die ze in de rustieke omgeving maakten. Met deze materialen stelden ze een cd samen. Gisteren mixten ze alle klanken live opnieuw tot een geheel in een sfeervol concert in het auditorium van het Eindhovense Van Abbemuseum.
Het was een concert om met de ogen dicht te beleven. Langgerekte akkoorden bewogen heen en weer als een zacht golvend bed, bloeiden op zeker moment op tot vibrerende orgeltonen. Daar kwamen geluiden doorheen van insecten, van regenvlagen, soms een licht suizen. Dan begonnen de klanken te pulseren en brak er een zweem in door van klokgelui ergens in de verte. Je hoorde zwevende akkoorden op een piano, waar een dikke laag van ruis en tikken overheen kwam te liggen, alsof de twee aan het krassen waren gegaan in de uitloopgroeven van meerdere lp's. De muziek ontvouwde zich in een uiterst kalm tempo. Zelfs als nieuwe klanken snel inkwamen, was dat zelden abrupt.
Hoe verleidelijk het ook was om de ogen te sluiten en je mee te laten drijven op de stroom van de muziek, dat was eigenlijk niet de bedoeling. De geluiden werden begeleid door een projectie van horizontale lijnen die zich in wisselende snelheid omhoog bewogen en steeds van kleur veranderden. Blijkbaar reageerden ze in hun bewegingen op de muziek. Bij plotse klanken zag je ze soms verspringen. Maar meestal was het verband met de dromerige klanken nauwelijks zichtbaar. Wel kreeg je de indruk van een weids landschap dat zich voor je ogen en oren ontrolde. Maar met de ogen dicht was het zeker zo mooi. [René van Peer]

Cyclic Defrost Magazine

Strewn together during a stay at a Manor Farm House in the South of England, Hidden Name invents its own mythic past. Its swooning, woody tones and swathes of haunting, echoing noise wipe away time’s contributions and seek out original memory, a universal stillness, a tantalizing quiver of immobility.

Seductive subtleties are present in the manners in which clusters of piano, flute and cello form new tonal configurations while always seeking union with a sky of pealing electronics. Compositions such as ‘Fugue’ have the fluid motion and expansiveness of the sea, as it cradles digital debris and bells that toll and reverberate. Other pieces, especially ‘Quartet For Flute, Piano And Cello’, maintain this fluttering delicacy and pendulous musing while at the same time embracing a grim eloquence, as the gurgling electronics pick up some grit and grime from the guttural, sibilant scraping of a violin. Such moments stand out as fleeting nightmares in an album that otherwise breathes with audible regularity.

Pieces on a whole are short, yet compositionally measured so as to convey an enriched sense of depth and vividness. At just under two minutes in length, ‘Belle Etoile’, with its clanking piano refrain, is slowly filled out by incidental sounds and light digital nicks and scratches, until all of a sudden the heavy beating of rain reveals that one is caught outside in a wide-open pasture of red-singed autumn gardens. ‘The Planets’, meanwhile, is a voluptuous twenty-minute composition which is draped in tender ambience and flickering, theremin-like pulses that continue to divulge these solemn, graceful themes. [Max Schaefer]