Last April, Matt Evans previous album New Topographics was released, a curious gathering of fourth world ambience and layers of conceptual and compositional intrigue. There was a sense that even that albums simplest moments were always the result of all sorts of complex and elaborate processes.
touchless is his new album and is tragically intertwined with recent events in Evans life. This album is the first music the New Yorker has made since his partner Devra Freelander was tragically killed whilst cycling in the city. Freelander’ s artwork once again features on the sleeve but the beautiful hanging ambience of touchless sonic contents positivity throb like transmissions from another realm.
Whilst it’s hard not to be deeply moved by the events around touchless, these 6 new pieces all beam with a blurred gorgeousness. The album opens with piano keys of Arcto 2 but it’s the textured, wobbly, dragging atmosphere that embalms each note, dapples like sunbeams. The music here draws an almost indescribable beauty like a distillation of Brian Eno and Harold Budd’s sublime Arc of Doves.
A gathering of vaguely defined field recordings slowly expands in Solar Silhouette. Imperceptibly, elements twisting from background into droning hissing foreground, as some abstract void, slowly expands skyward. The title track, touchless, circles around saxophone and upright bass in a storm of sonic throbbing debris almost obliterating the horizon.
The next track is entitled Firn, the words meaning: snow from last year that’s now in the intermediate stage between snow ad glacial ice, only loads the piece even further. The track shapeshifts between twinkling keys and corroded machinations into a sumptuously bank of memories for 7 beautiful minutes.
Florescent Sunrise hovers like an atom on the spot as it gently fluctuates and the closer Arcto 1 returns us to the deeply rendered beauty of the opener.
Very quickly, touchless starts to form connections within its own universe. Whilst the album is only available digitally or cd, all six tracks form 3 distinct pairs – Arcto 2 and Arcto 1, Solar Silhouette and Fluorescent Sunrise, and touchless and Firn. Imagine these tracks as a slab of vinyl in this sequence, where each track sits directly opposite/overlaying its other half. Layers of connection rendered together in some divine spatial poetry.
Whilst it’s clear that touchless is part of Evans grieving process, and we all feel tender from a world ravaged by this current pandemic, the whole project somehow side-steps any sense of darkness. touchless fizzes with so much light and beauty, despite its conceptual undercurrents, is a stunning liminal monument to an artist, by an artist.
Absolutely glorious stuff.