Matthewdavid - Mycelium Music 2xLP Record
The Mycelium is a vast, subterranean fungal network, through which plant-life, and, by extension, all living beings communicate. Individual mycelia are purported to be the largest organic entities on the planet. However, these networks simultaneously distort and disrupt our pre-existing understanding of individual, discrete organisms. Rather, the mycelium has emerged as empirical proof of longstanding “cliches” about nature and being: namely, that all life is interconnected; that we, as human animals, are porous — indebted to the very earth we tread.
Having emerged as a luminary of the Los Angeles Beat Scene, MatthewDavid immersed himself for several years in the rich, neglected, and all-too-often-derided archive of New Age sound/culture, stewarding a kind of New New Age sensibility into being. Mycelium Music constitutes a synthesis of these aesthetics, an alchemical marriage of sorts, in which the digital and the organic, the earthen and the aethereal, the bloom and the rot all collide and coexist.
How might the Mycelium sing? Where other sound artists might be tempted to capture the phenomena, reaching for a field recorder, MatthewDavid responds with a succinct, impressionistic, and diaristic suite of “songs” (although, as with the mycelium itself, one cannot easily distinguish where one song/organism ends and another begins).
Norns, Mycelium Music’s opening track, is named, appropriately, after the script-based, open-source instrument with which much of the record was composed. Allowing for both improvisation and accident, the Norns (whose online DIY community MatthewDavid has long supported) has here been utilized to produce generative music in multiple senses: autosynthetic, yes, but also, music that sounds like cyclical generation and decay. Sonically rendered, Mycelium Music conjures a familiar form of the uncanny, not dissimilar to time-lapse photography — a single toadstool stalk bursts from the ground, blooms, then swiftly dies away.
And of course it is beautifully textural. And of course there are moments and hits here to thrill the old heads. But what really does strike one, on first listen, is that the record is a product of serious contemplation on the meaning, the problems, and the promises of interdependence. Having started a family, having lost biological and chosen parents, having struggled with aging and embodiment, having launched a record label and cultivated (against all the usual odds and incentives) an enriching and expanding community of musicians, artists, and enthusiasts, MatthewDavid’s fingernails are pretty damn caked with the soil of life. Sifting through these experiences, Mycelium Music is a humble offering that eschews the ego of the DJ/Producer myth. It is a record predicated upon careful attention. And, to paraphrase Simone Weil, attention is a form of prayer. Emmett Shoemaker, May 7th 2022 3:08pm