Matt Atkins / Adam Kinsey
UK Minimal Resource Manipulation MRM033 CD-r / DL (2019)
Obtained from Matt Atkins in person at a concert at Hundred Years Gallery in Shoreditch earlier this year where Atkins performed in a trio with Brigitte Hart and John Macedo. Minimal Resource Manipulation is Atkins own imprint and is named succinctly after the situation most non-mainstream musicians find themselves in these days. LOWERCASE is an ironic title given that most of the gathered material here is fairly maximal in nature and a far cry from the early 2000’s New London Silence, Berlin Reductionism and indeed lower case music championed by London’s Sound 323 record shop and others. Perhaps this is simply a reference to a scene that Atkins and Kinsey love. But here, the duo break down the ideas and techniques associated with so-called lower case music and reassemble them in relatively dynamic and “in-your-face” ways.
There are two pieces on the disc; “Part One” feature grubby tape record heads and broken twigs while small motors molest crockery. A vaguely gothic synth-drone loops for a while, the musicians shuffling about, rubbing various utensils against multiple surfaces. Then, close mic’ed patterings emerge before someone begins turning the platter of a record deck backwards by hand so that the lp lurches drunkenly through the frequency spectrum. “Part Two” plays around with the ticking of insects, transducer hums, filter sweeps, a stylus sticking in a run out groove. Later, reverbed IRCAM homages swoop about like pitchshifted bamboo chimes or gaseous tubes vibrating.
It transpires that these are two live improvisations made utilising laptop and modular synth, the recordings mastered by Phil Julian. Expert sound-making - which I very much enjoy listening to - of a stripe that many musicians are dabbling with these days. But it seems to me that the real challenge is to make something bigger than the sum with these components. I include myself in that. LOWERCASE is a great example of these two musicians’ work. I’ll be keeping an eye on their future output.