Matteo Nasini ~ Sparkling Matter

What does sleep sound like?  Some might say sighing, snoring, tossing, turning.  What do dreams sound like?  The score seems trapped in our minds ~ but Matteo Nasini has found a way to tease it out.  With the aid of fourteen electrodes and conversion software, he’s been able to translate the sound of sleep and dreams to an enticing longform piece.  Yard Press has released this in an enticing vinyl package along with a 36-page booklet of art and prose; the physical edition is well worth the purchase.

The subject of sleep has been well covered yet poorly comprehended.  Much pseudo-science surrounds the conversation.  In his new book Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker debunks the lingering myths while underlining the importance of a good night’s rest.  Without such rest, our job performance, physical health and relationships are all at risk.  A healthy night includes at least eight hours of rest, during which we cycle through the five stages of sleep, culminating in R.E.M. dreams.  Nasini does an amazing job building to this explosion of color and activity, increasing the activity of the piece in moderate gradations before entering the bloom.

Side A introduces threads of encephalogram-generated music, punctuated by short periods of silence, like the liminal space between awareness and sleep.  When Sparkling Matter was first unveiled, the all-night event reflected the electrical music produced by a single sleeper (who had the opposite of stage fright).  The subsequent exhibition was three-dimensional, affording the attendees the ability to walk through another person’s dreams.  One may re-create this experience at home with a good sound system or multiple sound sources, such as a turntable, laptop and phone.  The music is soothingly hypnotic in a manner that might entice listeners into a trance-like state, or their own period of shut-eye.  Such a reaction would please Nasini, who invites attendees to lie down in concert; it’s even easier at home.

Speaker-to-speaker effects surge to the fore in the thirteenth minute, suggesting the communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Humans are not aware of such data transfer as it occurs, which makes this aural reflection so effective.  Synapses and neurons convey the information as one listens to the music, creating an additional dimension.  The installation also included a stringed instrument played by the wind, giving voice to the air around the sleeper.  If the tones begin to sound like chimes, just wait ~ it’s a bright foreshadowing.

In the early minutes of Side B, a drone rushes up the volume scale, only to dissipate in a flash ~ like the movement from one stage to another, or the memory of a dream.  The sound field grows as active as the mind, in which dreams are beginning to form like fog.  The drone returns in the sixth minute, sounding like a series of ocean waves.  While Nasini recommends “late night listening,” we suggest the opposite. To listen in the early morning is to encounter the sound of the mind growing more alert, paralleled by our physical awakening.  The gorgeous bells of the final six minutes become the energy of the morning, echoed by our own local wind chimes and church bells.  In this manner, we see the subconscious as an active force: unbridled inspiration and creativity, pealing back the covers of night.  (Richard Allen)

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