A few days ago, I learned the unthinkable, heartbreaking news that Matt Shoemaker has passed away. It hardly seems possible.
Matt’s sound art is some of the most singular, carefully arranged, densely layered and hauntingly beautiful work one is likely to find in this realm. Most anyone who knows me has heard me talk at great length about how marvelously powerful I think Matt’s work is. I consider him to be one of the absolute greats; his work far too little known.
Matt’s visual art is no less remarkable and highly developed than his audio work. His paintings and drawings have yet to be exhibited and have hardly been seen in person by anyone. Those of us who are familiar with it, however, know just how exceptional this material is. Hopefully the rest of the world will eventually know it too.
Aside from his incredible artistry, Matthew Thomas Shoemaker was my friend, as he was to all who took the time to get to know him. Matt and I spent many, many hours in conversation, over a pizza or over the phone. We talked about our shared love for the films of Mike Leigh, for science fiction and monster movies, for noise and experimental music. He told me about his travels in Indonesia and about his deep interest in gamelan. We talked about politics and religion and innumerable other subjects too. But our conversations always came back to the arts, for Matt was a born artist if I’ve ever met one. From his experiments with horror/gore make-up effects as a child to his highly evolved artwork as an adult, he had a passion for excellence and an insatiable urge to create and to express himself. Matt was an extremely thoughtful and complex person; his art is therefore extremely thoughtful and complex as well. It’s a brilliant legacy he leaves behind. I only wish there were more to look forward to.
I will forever be proud and thankful that I had a hand in releasing some of Matt’s music (on CD, vinyl and cassette) and even some of his visual work too (on a t-shirt for which he provided the art). I will cherish these objects. But of course these things cannot possibly compensate for the loss of my friend.
I still can’t believe you’re gone, Matt. I miss you terribly and I will miss you for the rest of my life.