I met Matt in a green room somewhere in Manhattan. I was in awe of his hair. We immediately hit it off. A few hours later we were arguing over who was a bigger Morton Feldman fan. He of course won when he pulled a photo of Feldman out of his wallet. I didn’t even have a wallet. A few years later we recorded this in a basement in Connecticut. CC 7.22.09
Rusted Breath Quiet Hands
Matthew Welch (b. 1976) has studied with noted
composers such as Barry Truax, Rodney Sharman, Alvin
Lucier and Anthony Braxton. His compositions range
from traditional-like bagpipe tunes to electronic
pieces, improvisation strategies and fully notated
works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and
orchestra. He has also taken part in a number of
compositional collaborations with Indonesian Gamelan
composer-performers in Bali and Java, performed in
free improvisation contexts with numerable New York
City improvisers, and played with art rockers in the
Brooklyn underground. Matthew appears on Anthony
Braxton’s 10 [Solo Bagpipe] Compositions 2000 and
three compact discs of his own music, Ceol Nua
(2002) highlighting orchestral and chamber works and Hag at the Churn (2003), a collection of electronic
concoctions. Dream Tigers (2005), a recording of
his most recent compositions, was released on Tzadik
Records’ Composer Series. The eclectic breadth of
his interests in Celtic music, gamelan, minimalism,
improvisation and rock also converge in
compositional amalgams for his New York based ensemble,
Craig Colorusso (b. 1970) Musician. Composer. Improviser. Dancer. Sculptor. After touring the US tirelessly in bands such as China Pig, Olive Grain and Diving Bell, Craig Colorusso found himself in one too many bars. Although loving music especially loud distorted guitar driven music he found himself in a dilemma about the presentation of sound. So the sound installations such as Tagmusik ( 24 Hour performance in Bethel CT)and Maschine (a composition for instruments and off-set presses) came and the concept was pushed further with CUBEMUSIC and MB 89.
REVIEW from Foxy Digitalis
One of the best things about the age in which we now live is the keen synthesis of various artistic forms. The proliferation of mixed-media work, music video, performance art and formalist theater in this decade is a testament to the willingness of mass culture to embrace a forward momentum in art. Music too has benefited from this collective thirst for ?newness? as demonstrated by the electronic/folk/minimal work of Sufjan Stevens and the glitchy/ambient/avant garde/pop of Dan Deacon. These artists combine styles to create new voices and new musical perspectives while inviting the listener along for the ride. It is a great time indeed to be a fan of modern music.
When listening to ?Rusted Breath Quiet Hands,? the project of Matthew Welch (on saxophone) and Craig Colorusso (on guitar), I am reminded of just far music has come in the last decade. The two long tracks on this disc are spacious yet offer enough subtle melody to impart some meaning. This music is most certainly modern, and the diverse and impressive backgrounds of Craig and Matthew are injected into the tracks as they draw on their collective past experiences and produce music that creates tension without disturbing the delicate, meandering compositional balance. In a sentence, this music is gentle, rolling guitar drones with subdued saxophone improvisations. Although the songs are long and rambling, the duo manages to stay on the message of each track. As they move around telling the story, the sax narration will occasionally digress, or expound but always returning to advance the intended plot.
I experienced track one while driving on a hot summer day without air-conditioning but I had just received some great news so the penetrating heat went unnoticed as my thoughts were guided by the positive vibe of the track. This was a great synaesthetic moment. The major chord, which never changes over the course of the song but does evolve and shift texturally, reminds one that ambient music does not need to be dark or entirely anti-social and I am grateful for the cheerful tone of this album. The musicians allow the song to exist and breathe on its own by restraining their contributions to the germane. As the drone swells, the sax will lay back. Then as the crescendo subsides, the sax will offer a flourish that serves as the auditory bookend. The guitar drones are sometimes harmonic variations, bass-heavy fluctuations, or midrange, monotonal movements. This diverse demonstration of drones displays just how much one can do with only one note. Track one is a less intense Azusa Plane track with sax noodling.
The second track features a soft guitar strum that repeats over the duration, creating a mysterious set from which the sax directs a surrealist play. Where the first track is a sunny, Sunday afternoon, the second track is a more contemplative, evening stroll along a city street. This brings us to the one drawback in the work on ?Rusted Breath Quiet Hands? and of some long-form ambient in general. The ideas contained in each track could be expressed in half as much time, leaving room on the CD for a few more tracks. As it is, I am left wanting a bit more, which to an artist is not necessarily a bad thing but to the listener can be unnerving.
While music is progressing in unpredictably amazing ways and what is acceptable by the mainstream is expanding beyond what anyone could have predicted, artists are finding voices by forging their own paths and creating their own spaces in which to exist. Matthew and Craig are certainly working hard to deliver ambient music that would fit right in at an art galley opening or in the classroom as research material for minimalist composers. 6/10 — Curt Seiss (21 August, 2007)
Cyclic Defrost January 2008
Matthew Welch and Craig Colorusso come from slightly divergent, yet complementary, backgrounds as improvising musicians – Welch via formal study under the likes of Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton, Colorusso via guitar ambience/noise bands such as China Pig, Olive Grain and Diving Bell. Welsh is on alto saxophone with Colorusso on guitar and their playing meshes beautifully on these two extended improvisations.
Both tracks use simple, unhurried, single chord guitar figures as a bed on which to lay languid, spacious melodies. In the first Colorusso concentrates on a single note – not really a drone as it stops and starts regularly – which sounds like it is possibly bowed rather than played in any traditional manner. Over this, Welch has his saxophone supplying a remarkable range of sympathetic tones. At times he sounds like he’s playing an oillian pipe, at others even bagpipes as well as more traditional saxophone tones. There’s some subtle processing involved, more to create accompanying harmonic tones rather than change the raw sounds. Each line is entered into carefully, remaining as a single note or perhaps finishing with a brief glissando. If that piece was gentle, the second is even more so. This time, Colorusso’s guitar figure develops into simple, naive riffs built around plucking individual strings of a single chord. The mild distortion has been removed and even the saxophone is limited to sounding just like a traditional alto saxophone. For just over 20 minutes the mood is delicate peacefulness – punctuated here and there with some growling sax overtones before resolving each time back to calm beauty. At times, snatches of Welch’s melodies almost sound like a rendition of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, filtered through a memory of a hazy dream.
This is disarmingly simple music but the sympathy with which the players interact and their ability to maintain an evocative mood for an extended period of time renders the simplicity as monumental.