Irrational Appendage (Extending)

by 5:4

Back in the late autumn of 2005, when – in every sense – things were very much darker than they are now, i did perhaps the strangest music search i’ve ever done. Into Soulseek i idly typed the words “disjecta membra”, only half curious to see what it might find, expecting to see nothing; but a couple of moments later, one of the most remarkable track titles i’ve ever seen appeared: “A full desirous body, rendered disjecta membra through the application of dust pincher appliances”. Unable to resist a title as allusive as that, i downloaded it, and thus began my love of the music of irr. app. (ext.). Product of the feverish mind of american artist Matt Waldron, irr. app. (ext.) explores music in a surrealist, at times absurdist manner, juxtaposing the immediately identifiable and anecdotal with the obscure and almost arcane, combining field recordings with electronics. In a way not dissimilar from that of The Hafler Trio, image and text are an integral part of the sonic experience; Waldron is a talented visual artist, producing the dream-like visuals that drape his output. The texts are equally obtuse, bearing a sidewise relationship to the music and the images; indeed, it’s often unclear whether the accompanying words are designed to clarify and elaborate, or confuse and obfuscate. i like this lack of certainty, and find it makes the overall experience that bit more stimulating. Waldron’s experiences with record labels have not been terribly successful, with many planned releases delayed or cancelled; of the works that actually made it so far as to be released, most were released in relatively small quantities, and so are now out of print. It seems i discovered his work just in time to acquire everything before the copies ran out. As of 2008, things seem to be looking up, and a number of irr. app. (ext.) releases are scheduled for release this year.

cover artwork for 'Radiant Black Future' by Matt WaldronIndividual irr. app. (ext.) tracks often don’t make much sense when taken out of context – these are, after all, album-length concepts – but some are just as breathtaking in isolation. One of the very finest comes from his (as yet) unreleased album Radiant Black Future: Step Forward and Address the Present Amidst the Wreckage of the Past. The track is entitled “Nascere e Crescere e Ardere D’Inconsapevolezza” – a wonderful quotation from one of Giuseppe Ungaretti‘s poems: “to be born and to grow and to burn with incomprehension” (which should be the title of my autobiography) – and it’s an intense, beautiful drone-based piece. Perhaps the most unexpected of his releases is a reworking of Abba’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, that irr. app. (ext.) contributed to an eclectic compilation entitled Masters of the Scene — The Definitive ABBA Tribute. “Definitive” is pushing it, but the irr. app. (ext.) version is the most sublime on the disc, and a very fine thing in its own right. From Perekluchenie, the longest and most brilliant track is “Hypothetical Tardigrade Resurrection, Parts 4, 5 and 6”, which, for all its surreality, seems to unfold in a perfectly sensible and logical way; it also contains many ‘trademark’ the irr. app. (ext.) sounds, so it’s good for those unfamiliar with his work. Last is a piece that, until recently, Matt Waldron didn’t even realise was available in the wider world. For some reason, in the dark and hellish, mis-tagged regions of file-sharing, someone’s taken “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, chopped it up into four tracks (which they label “parts 1-4”); then, they’ve added two further “parts” of this track, but what they really are is an entirely different piece called “A Marriage Processional”. This mystery was only solved a few weeks ago, when i played them to Matt Waldron and he explained. Yet another reason why downloaders need to have their wits about them, and actually do some research into what they’re listening to…

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