Stephan Mathieu is a sound artist working mostly with obsolete media, and within the curtains of A Static Place, he morphs a few classical 78s into a drone masterwork with a much more wooden — as in rich mahogany, not cheap fiber-whatever; as in “authentic” and smooth — feel than is the custom for the genre. It’s tingly and hushed, like a cymbal being hit by a flattened-out brush with a sock over it, just barely hovering above silence and letting the ear pick out the slight tonal variations and gradual lifts that pull on the stomach like a plane taking off but extended by about 20 minutes per each side of this 2xLP.
It’s a meditation that revels in an almost sacred state of stasis, like the ghost of a Lieven Martens composition haunting a Stars Of The Lid album telling a Riceboy Sleeps yarn heard from a few blocks away (in heaven?). Pulses throb and dip in and out of static nothingness, post-pinball twiddles of noise, barely even audible, dress the fringes, and the ear is left with a vague recollection of what just happened. Also, note to serious listeners: You have to jack this recording up like a bag of tangy-cock tortilla chips, because the subtleties might be missed on your turntable.
A Static Place will be a giant leap for most listeners and the perfect prize for the fervent few. From the fuzzy, hazy fold-out jacket to the foamy-white vinyl, the project finds Mathieu in complete command of his audio and visual aesthetic. This record will occupy a distinct place on your shelf/mental reference desk (if you follow me), which means more than you might think in this age of profound progress and befuddling regression.