Matt Borghi - December Impressions
Artist: Matt Borghi
Title: December Impressions
Label: Hypnos Secret Sounds (Ltd CDR)
2008. We here at Hypnos have long enjoyed Matt Borghi's subtle atmospheric ambient music, and believed it deserved more attention. Many of Matt's CDs are out of print, and we've agreed to re-issue a series of our favorite recordings on the Hypnos Secret Sounds imprint. Simple, restrained, and artful, these recordings deserve to remain in print, and we hope these reissues will help introduce more of today's ambient music listeners to the work of this important artist. Following our release of Huronic Minor a few months back, here we announce the second part of our Borghi reissue series, December Impressions.
December Impressions was conceived, and recorded during the spring of 2001. This is a dark, cold, and steely recording that borders more on tone poem than full LP release. The tracks are named as sequences, representing parts of the same whole, and a cohesive linear listen rather than a variety of separate tracks of the same mood. With this release there was an attempt to represent the cold Michigan winters, or at least the sound of the Michigan landscape during the dark winter m onths. While this recording is truly ambient, and contemplative in nature it's also quite gritty and cold. This doesn't have the warm, lush synth pad chordings that many ambient recordings are known for. Comparisons for this recording are difficult becuase there's not a whole lot out there that sounds like it, but comparisons to Robert Rich, VidnaObmana, Alio Die, and Zoviet France might be appropriate.
*Additional Composer's Note - December Impressions came to be in a weird compositional period. This recording used, as it's source, a handful of pieces composed a few months earlier when I was working on Elegy for Time. Once I developed these guitar pieces I then dabbled with composing for frequencies alone. I focused on using low-end frequencies between 100 and 500hz, and I focused on high-end frequencies from 1Khz - 12Khz. This recording truly embodied the conceptual process of painting with frequencies. I organized the frequencies wholly on how they worked with regard to creating a steely, icy mood of a Michigan December landscape, even though, this work was actually being composed in the early spring. December Impressions eventually turned into a stark, and cold kind of ambient soundtrack. I like the direction that this recording took, but after it's completion I had satisfied my experiments with 'frequency painting'.
1. Part I MP3
2. Part II
3. Part III
4. Part IV
5. Part V MP3
6. Part VI
7. Part VII
8. Part VIII
9. Part IX
10. Part X
11. Part XI MP3
Purchase direct for $9.99
Reviews"Voted #6 in Ambientrance's Top Ten Recordings of 2001!!! Read the review below: Somber-but-sweet tonal washes are smeared across the vast, cold soundscenery of December Impressions. With one near-silent exception, Matt Borghi's "sequences" hover in a surreal state of shapeless beauty against slate-colored skies. We first encountered Matt's sounds in the June 2000 Overviews, and I must say I like the directions in which they've headed since then. A ringing void is threaded with billowing low tones amongst lighter shimmers in the ethereal murk of Sequence I. Practically inaudible Sequence II (3:02) provides a few quiet moments for uninterrupted contemplation before the shadowy swirls of Sequence III flow in all their enigmatic glory. Like metallic wisps slowly writhing above some unknown gorge of bubbling depths Sequence V carries the sequential soundscapes into Sequence VI, further exploring the oddly comforting spookiness. Deep swells are criss-crossed by glaring striations as Sequence VIII (4:48) examines these scenes from yet another only-slightly-different angle. Somehow eerier (though never really evil) Sequence XI radiates with the final spectral moments. The tracks vary little, but that's cool... it's as if Matt Borghi has taken a series of intriguing photographs documenting the same washed-out winter terrain from several vantage points; the cumulative effect adds up to a cohesive whole... and even if the whole is an ambiguous sonic slur, it's a most entrancing slur! The chilly expanse of December Impressions gets a warmly glowing 9.1"
--David J. Opdyke, Ambientrance
"December Impressions is very haunting and original and for me is as excellent as Huronic Minor was but only too bad that the tracks are shorter. It would have been great if you could have blended them together because of their similarity. Maybe it would have worked even better as a single long piece."
--Vladimir Jovanovic, Inner Space Radio
"Matt Borghi's December Impressions differs in two distinct ways from his last drone/ambient release, Huronic Minor. One, the songs are much shorter in length (between three and four minutes each) and do not vary as much as the previous album's selections; and, two, the territory he is exploring on these tone poems is one not of shadow and mist (as on Huronic Minor) but of crystalline purity and icy beauty. I would hesitate to call any of the eleven cuts (all of which are titled "Sequence" followed by their cut number, e.g. "Sequence I, Sequence II" etc.) inviting or warm. However, what December Impressions lacks in warmth (and I think this is intentional, hence the CD's title) it makes up for in a shimmering sense of cold - the music paints evocative images: icicles forming on an abandoned northwoods cabin, a ghost-moon peaking through wispy clouds on a sub-zero night, the hint of despair felt by a traveler who has become disoriented in a blizzard. Yes, December Impressions is certainly not inviting. It's not truly scary either, at least to my ears. It's forlorn and completely devoid of good cheer or even the hint of friendliness - which, if you are a resident of the northern climates of the midwest United States (as both Matt and I are) is a pretty accurate depiction of the harsh reality of winter in these parts. As a sonic portrait of this bleak weather and the moods it can provoke when one is outside and confronted with the season's most bitter fury, December Impressions is a wonder to hear - uncompromising, pure of essence, and chillingly dangerous, these songs (which blend very high-pitched whistling tones with deep bass drones) weave a hypnotic spell on the listener. Just as the slow but eventual grip of hypothermia tightens on those unlucky enough to be stranded in the snow and cold, so too the "sequences" on December Impressions slowly but inexorably entice the listener to journey to an unforgiving soundscape. Musically, Matt shows an evolution of the refinement and control of nuance heard on his album Huronic Minor (which, by almost all accounts from critics and fans alike, including yours truly, was one of the biggest successes in recent ambient music history). However, where Huronic Minor was comforting, even at its darkest and most mysterious, December Impressions (owing to the ubiquitous presence of those whistling very-high tones) may be almost too much for more casual ambient fans. This is not "easy' ambient music. It's well-crafted and expertly recorded (better than Huronic Minor, even) but it's so laced through and through with a starkness and a chilling presence (literally) that some may feel it too sterile to be enjoyed. Myself, (and no pun intended in the proceeding) it took me several listenings before I warmed to the CD's barren iciness. Eventually, though, the crystalline tones, which shimmer and waver over Borghi-patented lower-register drones, won me over. But if you have a low tolerance for high tones, you may want to sample this release before purchasing it. Surely it's a bold statement on the part of an artist who believes in breaking molds. Matt Borghi does not record garden variety ambient music. In the case of December Impressions, he has succeeded in crafting a work of challenging soundscapes. My only advice - don't play it in the wintertime. There's enough chill in the air already!"
--Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire http://www.windandwire.com