"Soulcaster" is the third solo record by Brooklyn-based composer/performer Joanna Mattrey. Following "Live in Accord" and various Notice Recordings-curated performances in the Hudson Valley, this album is a further development in our years-long friendship. With "Soulcaster", Mattrey scrapes, scratches, and wails on viola, prepared viola, and a tromba marina, built by Webb Crawford. Mattrey’s love of unique and unusual sounds has inspired her to alter the pure tone of the viola through preparations with styrofoam, plastic toys, chains, and other objects. But the newest sounds in her arsenal come from the tromba marina, which has one primary playing string and thirteen sympathetic strings. Rather than gently coaxing out the harmonics, as the historical playing style suggests, Mattrey employs a raucous and roaring approach.
The title, "Soulcaster", is borrowed from Brandon Sanderson’s book series, "The Stormlight Archive". In the fantasy series, a soulcaster is an instrument that transforms one object or life form into another. Mattrey’s practice connects heavily to the idea of transformation. She uses preparations and objects not only to create new sounds from her instruments, but to embrace the unknown. No matter how many times the same object has been used, depending on the vibrations on a given day, the preparations might bring out totally different sounds. This randomness creates a joyful challenge for Mattrey, who believes that especially during improvisation, music has its own life that activates and guides the sound forward. Mattrey surrenders to this energetic line of sound over the eleven tracks featured on this tape.
released April 4, 2023
Joanna Mattrey - viola, tromba marina
Recorded by Nathaniel Morgan at Blooming Lightways Studio, April 2022 (1, 3, 4, 6-10)
Recorded by Webb Crawford, April 2022 (2, 5, 11)
Mixed and mastered by Elliot Sharp, August 2022
Artwork by E. Lindorff-Ellery
Letterpress printed by Small Fires Press
Notice Recordings started in Chicago in 2009. We are now based in Kingston, NY, and Columbia, MO. We release experimental and contemporary sound works. Notice Recordings is run by Evan Lindorff-Ellery (NY) and Travis Bird (MO).
My humanities professor showed me this piece and i cannot stop coming back to it. Something deep and alluring of this piece keeps me wanting more. Absolutely one of my favorite cuts from last year. Ra!