Fosil Sangiran – Khayal Kuno and Pasar Fosil


Colin Andrew Sheffield wrote a lovely guest post for us in September, eulogizing his good friend Matt Shoemaker.

“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,” he wrote. “Most anyone who knows me has heard me talk at great length about how marvellously powerful I think Matt’s work is. I consider him to be one of the absolute greats; his work far too little known.”

Sheffield was more than just a friend and admirer. His label Elevator Bath released a number of Shoemaker’s recordings. They are every bit as wonderful as Sheffield says.

This week, we get two albums of archived material under Shoemaker’s pseudonym Fosil Sangiran. Both feature a pair of intensely gentle compositions recorded during an extended visit to Indonesia between 2012 and 2013. The name Sangiran is borrowed from the Indonesian world heritage site rich with archaeological treasures.

Khayal Kuno matches heavily treated cassette recordings with a dark palette of metallic sounds. If the Sangiran ancients had made electronic music, it’s not difficult to imagine that it would have sounded like this.

“Khayan Kuno – Bagian Satu” is the more opaque of the two. Counterintuitively, it’s also quieter than “Khayan Kuno – Bagian Dua.” The latter compensates for its relative harshness with a relatively spacious arrangement.

Pasar Fosil is more in keeping with the bulk of Shoemaker’s catalogue. His take on drone music had a complexity we’re not always treated to by artists in the genre. “Pasar Fosil – Bagian Satu” is handsome layer upon handsome layer. As the piece builds over its 23 minutes, newcomers to Shoemaker will come to understand his exceptionally powerful appeal.

“Pasar Fosil – Bagian Dua” is the most challenging – at times even confrontational – of the four works. Unlike its geographical origins, the piece is ice cold. It illustrates Shoemaker’s range as a composer and performer. More than that though, it signals clearly that this extraordinary young man was a fearless artist.

Profits from these two releases will be donated to the Jack Straw Cultural Center.

Kevin Press

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