Matthew Dotson
Excavation [CS; Self-released]

This tape by Matthew Dotson is probably not the most ideal choice for review in Cerberus, since it’s my understanding that these reviews are supposed to be pretty short in general. But the Chicago noisenik packs so many different ideas, textures, and inflections into this incredible collage of sounds and styles that I’m going to struggle to keep my thoughts on Excavation as brief here as possible. My understanding is that Dotson records most of his work live, with sound sources culled from collected recordings of his world travels (notably Japan for the A-side of this tape, which features some pretty prominent Koto playing somewhere in the first half). But a lot of this stuff feels more than just live tape mixing and manipulating of found sounds — everything feels very performed, from moments of break-beat/noise that reminds me of some of Mouse on Mars more free-form mind scrambles, or maybe even Aphex Twin, to some drowsy extensions of electric guitar tones that drift into downtrodden post-rock, like outtakes from an older Tortoise LP strung together into a medley of beauty, intrigue, and general craziness. Aside from the sheer variety of sounds, and the complexity with which everything is woven together (truly excellent pacing through all of this, by the way), dynamics and solid understanding and exploitation of the stereo space are also some of Dotson’s stronger suits. Both sides are deep and compelling excursions into environments that remain hopelessly musical. That is, Excavation is a real album to be listened to for those basic musical elements in addition to being a tapestry of noises giving us something to awkwardly stare at in confused wonder.


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