- Friday, March 17, 2017
Those Who Walk Away is the project of Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton, which he describes as an "ever evolving working group of melodic constructivists." Patton is perhaps best known for his highly acclaimed (and Emmy Award-winning collaboration) Speaking In Tongues with the choreographer Paul Taylor, and has worked with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Guy Maddin and many others. He is also the curator of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival. The Infected Mass is the first of several works Patton intends to release as Those Who Walk Away.
The Infected Mass is a haunted and profoundly emotive requiem of minimalist composition that combines ghostly strings and choral voices with musique concrète; melodic passages rise and fall amidst rumbling and sibilant drones sourced from humming and whispering voices and the sound of human blood flow, punctuated by cockpit voice recordings of airplanes in distress.
Patton explains: "There is something very genuine and at the same time very wrong in what I am doing. The recordings are very disturbing; as we listen to these cockpit voice recordings, real people are about to die. I don't know why I am doing something that feels so wrong. But I am. This work is disturbingly personal for me. The music is filled with ghosts and artifacts I couldn't erase. It is filled to the saturation point with a pathology which infects everything, of decayed memories haunted by the ghost of my brother, who was killed in a plane crash."
The Infected Mass is a powerful work of contemporary sacral music, executed with elegiac beauty and restraint. Recorded in Winnipeg and Reykjavik, a quintet of Winnipeg-based string players combines with a quartet of Iceland Symphony Orchestra players (who've previously played on Sigur Rós, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Bedroom Community recordings) performing 'ghost strings' and 'ghost choir' for this Mass. Patton, as composer, arranger and producer, then obsessively sculpts these recordings with erasure techniques, seeking liminal and transcendent horizons of sonic materiality through absence, subtraction, silence and collapsing structure. An artistic statement of Morton Feldman's is a guiding principle for Patton: "Silence is my substitute for counterpoint. It’s like thinning out the music with turpentine."
The Infected Mass is available digitally and on deluxe 180gram audiophile vinyl and CD with original artwork by Neil Farber and Micheal Dumontier, alumni of the Royal Art Lodge in Winnipeg.