Regular readers of ACL might remember this excellent mix from last year, Half-Speed Flourish by Matthew Sage. He played back old orchestral LPs at 16rpm, recording the result and mixing them together, giving us a window into his creative process and a closer look at the kinds of raw material he deconstructs to form his soundscapes as M. Sage. I really appreciated Sage’s creative approach to that mix, but it wasn’t necessarily representative of other aspects of his work. Over the last few years he’s released a steady supply of music through his own tape label, Patient Sounds, as well as on other labels. His work as M. Sage conjures micro-worlds of sound, honing in on the nuances and textures of field-recordings. The listener’s attention drifts between the multiple layers of sound, enveloped by a welcoming sense of disorientation.
M. Sage’s latest is Data in the Details, a tape that presents an interesting study in variation. Just as his mix granted a new perspective on his soundscape works, this C30 presents itself as two-sides of the evolution of M. Sage. “Data in the Details (heads up extended edit)” is an un-rushed exploration guided by its source material, its largely unprocessed and lo-fi field-recordings playing off minimal electronic tones that tend to drift in stutters and pulses. It’s B-Side, “Data in the Details (mover isuzu dub edit),” offers a surprisingly upbeat exploration of the same material, this time driven by a tropical rhythm. The same elements are present- the lo-fi recordings, minimal electronics, dub techniques- but the steady rhythm grants new emphasis.
Still primarily an explorations of textural soundscapes, Sage’s work has become increasingly interested in rhythm. This dub edit is seemingly something of a point of demarcation. I wouldn’t be surprised is his his next release is a full-on beat tape, though certainly still defined by the idiosyncrasies of field-recordings and careful attention to texture.
Following labels is one of my primary means of discovering new music, so there is nothing I appreciate more than a well-curated label with a coherent aesthetic. Sage’s own label, Patient Sounds, takes this approach and so its no surprise to find him appearing on labels with similar commitments. Geographic North, an excellent label based in Atlanta, is a good fit for M. Sage, with a diverse catalog that still manages to project a recognizable identity. (Joseph Sannicandro)