'Quality Hotel' CD
Stephan Mathieu, Radboud Mens, Janek Schaefer, Timeblind
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Play sample: Tenth Floor: [with Real Audio]
1. Tenth floor
2. Second floor
3. Fourth floor
4. Seventh floor
5. Ninth floor
6. Sub-basement level
7. Eighteenth floor
Running time: 48:06
Released May 2003
This recording is the second in a series produced during the MUTEK festivals. It symbolizes our desire to foster meetings and collaborations amongst artists during their stay in Montreal for the festival. During the 2002 edition of MUTEK, four artists invited by the festival decided to explore the experience of turning a hotel room into a sound lab. The compositions on this record were created on a sunny june morning, and they exhibit an acute sense of improvisation and a fine degree of complicity amongst the participants. The resulting CD contains seven piece of dense, sometimes harsh, sometime relaxing, electronic experiments. An intriguing journey into the mind of their authors. Never disappointing. Thanks to the musicians, Stephan Mathieu (GER), Radboud Mens (NL), Janek Schaefer (UK) and Timeblind (USA), who, gathered at the Quality Hotel, were able to transpose this intimate moment and fertile exchange into a unique and stimulating CD.
Eric Mattson, ORAL for MUTEK
Published by Freibank (SM), STEMRA (RM), audiOh! (JS), crucial_systems (T).
Made in Canada, www.mutek.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fallt, (Norther Ireland) [Christopher Murphy]
The second in a series of live recordings produced during Montreal's MUTEK Festival, 'Quality Hotel' features the combined talents of Stephan Mathieu, Radboud Mens, Janek Schaefer and Timeblind flexing their sonic muscles on the final day of MUTEK 2002. Recorded in Mens' hotel room, the scene was a solid mass of cabling, linking four artists - umbilical-like - as they coaxed their machines to life, gently easing sound into the hot atmosphere of a sunny June morning.
Listening to 'Quality Hotel' brings back fond memories of warm summer days in Montreal; friends meeting and exchanging ideas freely; music trickling from laptops into an overworked mixing desk; Schaefer manipulating his twin-armed turntable whilst simultaneously adjusting mixer settings; all the while Chris (Timeblind) Sattinger struggling to get his recalcitrant laptop to co-operate... The result: seven tracks of warm melodies occasionally surfacing above a sea of hesitant and gentle static. A beautiful balance of four talents all trying to focus while I stumbled around the room photographing the process with a series of borrowed cameras (while suffering from a festivalŐs worth of sleepless nights).
The tracks - numbered after the hotelŐs floors - are a series of calm meditations, a suite of crystalline studies which unfurl gently, bearing all the characteristics of the different artists' trademark sounds and differing sensibilities. A perfect balance, the result of a rich improvisatory dialogue. After a gentle opening 'Fourth Floor' sees staccato pulses emerge from a gently wielding hiss. Hover. Slightly. Then fade to the machine hum of 'Seventh Floor', a growing chord - stretched, infinite - punctuated by low end grumble and shimmering pulses. By 'Ninth Floor' we're in full flow, elegiac chords drifting momentarily before collapsing into an ocean of sibilance - old vinyl at its glorious best. The closing track, 'Eighteenth Floor', sees a far off melody escaping (presumably from SchaeferŐs turntables) as the others massage a spacious digital landscape from pulses and glitches. Fitting that the closing track is the longest, its sixteen minutes easing gently out to create a void, silently embracing. Leaving behind a sea of memories.
At forty-eight generous minutes, Mathieu, Mens, Schaefer and Timeblind coax their machines into a beautiful display of restraint and mutual respect. Perhaps it's the tiredness brought on after such a well-organised and well-enjoyed festival, but the results are spectacular, fondly recalled and, one hopes, not the last of these spontaneous hotel room encounters.
Vital list, (The Netherlands) [Frans de Ward]
For many Mutek is Sonar's little sister in North America. Similar music, but because of the smaller size, maybe a more friendly approach. In 2001 Goem played there, and they took the chance to work on their 'Abri' CD in their hotelroom. Other artists from the festival shared rooms next to Goem, and dropped by to see what they were doing. After some explaining, some of the artists used the Goem set up to do their Goem (re-?) mixes. A CD was released later on, 'Gast' on the Mutek side label. This idea of using hotel rooms for artists in transit was further explored in 2002, when Radboud Mens, Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer and Timeblind decided to do some music together which is now released as 'Quality Hotel' (just like 'Abri' a name of a hotel in Montreal). It's a bit different then the Goem CD, in that respect that 'Gast' still sounds like Goem, but in the hands of others. 'Quality Hotel' is the result of editing the finest moments from probably several hours of improvising music together. It's hard to tell who did the final selection, but my guess it's Stephan Mathieu having a big hand in this. I don't hear Radboud Mens crazy minimal techno, Timeblind's hip hop inspired rhythms and from Janek we hear his turntable, but it's very much incorporated in the total. Leaves the warm crackles of Mr. Mathieu, still one of the more refined musicians when it comes to warm glitches, and it seems to me that he has a firm hand in editing this album. It's subdued ambient like music, with occassional crackles and hiss, maybe even an odd bang here and there (although rhythm is altogether not a theme here). Held back and refined, warm and glitchy. There is a lot of improvisation going on between people with laptops, but it not always reaches great height. Here's one that matters.
The Wire, [Ken Hollings]
Four visitors to the Mutek Festival in Montreal decided to take the event's collaborative ethos to the next stage by transforming a hotel room into a sound studio for the duration of one morning. The resulting sequence of seven deftly structured pieces, presumably completed just before the maid came around to change the towels, is loosely layered, sociably alert and inventive. Germany's Stephan Mathieu, Holland's Radboud Mens, together with the UK's Janek Schaefer and Timeblind from the US, display admirable collaborative talents. The protracted group effort on the 16 minute 'Eighteenth Floor' is particularly notable for its subtlety and restraint...at least until they started arguing over the mini-bar bill.
This CD by the Mutek Posse has a rather unique background. Participants of the festivals' 2002 edition were asked to turn their hotel rooms into a studio and to give the resulting tracks, some of them colaborations, to Mutek. Said and done, here we have Radboud Mens, Janek Schaefer, Timeblind and Stephan Mathieu delivering a series of 7 live recordings making up an extremely beautiful, gleamingly extensive, crackling album which sounds as if this hotel would be the calmest place on earth. Almost a monastery for electronic musicians. A perfect listen... [*****]