Matthew Sullivan Matthew

[Recital; 2019]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: autobiography
Others: Graham Lambkin, Jason Lescalleet, Sean McCann, Taku Unami, Simple Affections

How are ya’ll doing today? “Well,” I hope. Good, good. Thank ya’ll for showing up, I appreciate your audience. Here are some thoughts about why we’re all here. This kind of noise, these sounds that Matthew Sullivan has shared with us, has never “slapped,” as they say, just because it’s cerebral; contrarily, we all know, it rarely is. Legends like Graham Lambkin aren’t storytellers, they’re documentarians. We just imbue it all with our baggage. And how beautiful is that? Like how Taku Unami made me unexpectedly beam by simply recording dribbling basketballs. Like how a church organ droning over clanking folding chairs on Photographs made my dad nearly tear up because it reminded him of his mother’s music.

Throughout this decade, Sean McCann’s Recital Program has been gifting us with simple affections, reminding us why classics stay with us. Basically, if you make it sound like something that could be loved by someone for an eternity, then you’ve figured out exactly what Mozart did in his teen years. These gestures, these movements, can “move” en masse, because first they move in solitude and eventually through Community, ultimately immortalized by celebration. What Matthew has given us with this new release is himself, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll recognize a bit of ourselves in there too.

Now, whether you go on from this moment in time inspired or upset or unmoved by what you hear here is inconsequential. What I think is beautiful about music like this is how obsessed with vitality it is. Have you ever noticed that? You turn a microphone outward into a world teeming with life; you turn it inward against your quivering lips; and what you end up with is unshakable. How special is that? Why would such truth be any less so than an intricately layered chorale?

I think that as listeners, as witnesses of our own resonant worlds, we’ve been far too preoccupied for far too long with consequence and invention rather than with the miracle of chance that manifests all around us. In our retrospectives, we praise originality, novelty, machinery, conquest, infrastructure. Perhaps that’s why we value our environment so little and its stakeholders so much. All of this I am reminded of through Matthew’s work, wisely presented here as nothing more and nothing less than what it is, augmented by nothing more and nothing less than our imaginations.

In closing, here are some personal reflections on Matthew, nothing more and nothing less than words extracted from vibrations:

nachos in London
midday prayer over alleys in Istanbul
grandmothers and smells and wooden ducks and books
bells rung by death in Moravia
cops in South Madison
tea and Chinese food in St. Louis
and crying and smirking and sneezing and creaking floorboards
and everywhere else
unchanged, but taller through thought
breathe and there’s always sound
revel in it

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