Mathilde 253 is one of those ‘name’ groups that sprang fully-formed from a single playing moment… but seems to have been around for much longer…. Ian Smith is a formidable technician and a profoundly intuitive music maker, with the ability to deliver exactly the right sound, or very often the right sonic texture, at the psychological moment….
Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. One of the delights of this live session is that one very frequently can’t distinguish who is making particular sounds. There’s not much idiomatic guitar-playing, though Park is very much in the Derek Bailey rather than the Keith Rowe line; he uses relatively orthodox technique to unorthodox ends.
It’s fascinating to find [Charles] Hayward in this setting, taking up the mantle—different as they were—of the late Steve Harris. Mathilde 253 has something of the guttural authority and generosity of gesture one associates with Zaum…. They also make a specific virtue of building other musicians into the group language.
It’s a long set, but has sufficient underlying momentum to pass with deceptive speed. It takes an alert listener to distinguish occasional quietuses in the process with track endings, and there is a moment between ‘Ishikari’ and ‘Jixi’ when it sounds almost as if one aspect of the previous piece has been filleted out for more sustained attention. Smith favors long mongrelly growls and scales that ascend and descend in illogical ways, like the stairs in an M C Escher print. Hayward has a very distinct sense of time underneath the freedom….
This is an exciting new venture for him and for the others. One can reasonably expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter and Smith always repays the closest attention, and claims it with sudden open-horn breakouts if the fabric of the music gets too smooth and uninflected. [Read the rest…]
— Brian Morton (Point of Departure)