Martina Berther and Philipp Schlotter are prolific in their respective ways, having been active in pop and jazz music, respectively, as well as playing in bands and exploring the outer fringes of sound art or composing music for film. Their first joint album ‘Matt’ was recorded over the course of four days in a church in the Swiss village after which the album was named. Berther and Schlotter worked with the building organ as well as synthesizers and electric bass to follow an experimental approach that oscillated between composition and free improvisation.

The five pieces, recorded directly to tape by Flo Götte without any additional overdubs, are characterized by an intimacy and rawness that calls to mind the introspective atmospheres of Hallow Ground label mates FUJI|||||||||| and mastering engineer Lawrence English. ‘Matt’ is the result of two versatile composers and musicians executing minimalist ideas by giving them plenty of space to unfold.

The album opens with ‘Unruhe’, a composition that is based on the twelve-tone technique. Using a stopwatch to ensure adherence to the predetermined temporal intervals between the individual notes, Berther and Schlotter used the church organ and synthesizers for an ominous piece that traverses different moods and levels of intensity throughout its 14-minute run time. ‘LFO1’ and ‘LFO2’ are different variations of the same concept: based on a synthesizer preset and structured by an organ drone, two-tone generators slowly fall silent, resulting in elegiac pieces that call to mind the work of Éliane Radigue.

‘Frachter’ and ‘Gallia’ put more emphasis on percussive elements. Again working with organ as well as Bertherʼs prepared electric bass, this improvisation comprises interlocking textures that sound almost menacing on ‘Frachter’ while they create a very different atmosphere on ‘Gallia’. These notable discrepancies in sound and mood are even more astonishing if you consider that the two pieces are based on the exact same recording, played at different speeds. 

As two variations on the same idea with very different results, these two pieces perfectly represent how the duo effectively creates emotionally affective sound worlds with very few means. Berther and Schlotterʼs conceptual minimalism yields rewarding, multi-faceted aesthetic results. ‘Matt’ is an intimate album, marked by a sense of vividness and spontaneity, but also the product of compositional conciseness.

Music by Martina Berther (bass, organ) and Philipp Schlotter (synthesizer, organ)
Recorded by Flo Götte at Reformierte Kirche Matt (GL)
Pre-Mix by Roland Wäspe
Mastering and Post-Production by Lawrence English at Negative Space
Cover photo by Andrea Ebener and band photo by Jeremie Luke
Design by Laurin Huber

Listen to ‘Matt‘ on Bandcamp

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