three (2003)

1. apathy one
2. apathy two
3. apathy three
4. nostalgia one
5. nostalgia two
6. nostalgia three
7. yearning one
8. yearning two (with Tatiana Brainerd)
8. yearning three

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   " ... haunting, shifting, and nuanced drifts and drones of electronic tonalities ... "

dene bebbington
wind and wire

Matthew Florianz is an artist whose music I've only recently discovered, and I definitely hope to hear more of it in the future. Three occupies a musical space that combines drifting ambience with dark and mysterious drone-based sensibilities. This is a sub-genre that some others have entered but few do it as well as Matthew.

The three things that the title refers to are apathy, nostalgia, and yearning (in that order); and each of these themes is split across three discrete tracks. I found myself becoming ambivalent about whether the music actually conveys much sense of the theme it belongs to. Sometimes it fitted the mood suggested by the title but at other times it simply felt more abstract and eerie.

The first two tracks of "apathy" have lugubrious and oppressive drones that are followed by a slightly brighter piece which conveys more of a sense of thought, as though a slothful and melancholy mood is broken into by the more positive aspects of one's mind. In contrast, "nostalgia" begins with the sound of rain and distant synth tones which eventually get replaced by a series of well-spaced reverbing notes sounding so much like a church organ that it made me imagine standing in a church or cathedral listening to the organ trying it's best to fill the massive acoustical space. Curiously, the second track of "nostalgia" then takes the listener to a railway station because of sampled sounds of a train and the lumbering noises it makes on the railway tracks. Finally, "yearning" is perhaps the most gentle of the three themes, especially the second part of it which features the ghost like vocals of Tantiana Brainerd (who is also to be heard on Electronic Forest), these presumably treated vocals are so ethereal as to sound like the sonic equivalent of breathing.

When it comes to creating haunting, shifting, and nuanced drifts and drones of electronic tonalities then Matthew Florianz is without a doubt one of the best judging by this album. Imagine the organic and gossamer elements of Diatonis, the drones of John Broaddus, and the drifting ambience of Thom Brennan and you'll have some idea of what Three has to offer.

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