Matthew Grouse – The Eye of the Storm

How would you describe the piece?

Eye of the Storm is part of an ongoing series of audiovisual collaborations between a London based visual artist, Andy Sowerby and myself. At the heart of the work there’s a fascination with the ways that we process and digest multi-sensory information. The music seems to provide an altered lens through which to interpret the abstraction of the images and vice-versa. Through this synthesis of sound and image, it seems that one component continually informs our experience and perception of the other. Intermittent moments of recognisable, ‘anecdotal’ sounds; and heavily pulse-based elements colour the way we understand and interpret the images. There’s a tension between audiovisual counterpoint and moments of seeming inextricable synchronicity, which I think allows the music to manufacture unusual emotional responses to the images. This was also one of the first ventures for me that aesthetically combined my interest in artists like Venetian Snares and Aphex Twin, with some more ‘conventional’ electroacoustic aspects.


How did the project come about?

The project came about through a mutual interest in direct-action, experimental animation and film making like the works of Len Lye and Norman McLaren. Since I came across them, I’ve been obsessed by the relationship between sound and image in these films. A good example of this is McLaren’s A Phantasy in Colors, originally scored by Oscar Peterson’s trio. I find the intermittent harmonious moments that sit between more mismatched, dissonant combinations of music and visuals totally arresting and they make me work a bit harder to knit together some sense of coherence, which I really like. I got in touch with Andy at the beginning of last year after seeing some of his work and then we went from there. There’s another short in the series called Scratch and we’re looking to start a new one for an installation with multi-channel audio and images projected through glass prisms onto multiple gallery walls, thus adding an additional layer of distorted perception.


What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

In February, the New York based label, Not Art Records is releasing an EP of some of my electroacoustic works, including both Eye of the Storm and Scratch with some very pretty album artwork by Brooke Herr. I’m just finishing off quite a big piece, ‘The Periphery Archives’, for small amplified ensemble, soundtrack and video for the 2018 PLUG Festival. I’m currently writing a short work for Red Note Ensemble for the relatively unusual forces of clarinet, violin, cello, harp and electric bass, with performances in March. I’m also excited about participating in the Darmstadt Summer Courses in July where I’ll be writing a new electric guitar etude for Yaron Deutsch.


What other works have you seen or heard in the last year that you think will stand the test of time?

One of the first composers that my electroacoustic tutor, Alistair MacDonald introduced to me was the Canadian artist Yves Daoust. I was fortunate enough to recently experience Yves diffusing a concert of his works. His piece Lily had a big impact on me. I was also exposed to the work of some really brilliant audiovisual composers at Sound / Image when Andy and I presented Eye of the Storm and Scratch in November. Among these were: Myriam Boucher and Maxime Corbeil-Perron who were new to me (check out Ghostly by Maxime). Another electroacoustic piece that made a big impression on me last year was Elephant on the Wall by a fellow composition student at RCS, Patrick Shand.


In an ideal world, what is the piece or project that you would most like to write or create?

I’ve had this idea for a mixed-media chamber opera brewing for a couple of years now, which I’m pretty desperate to realise. It’s called #449 and centres around the commodification of animals and acts as a glimpse into the lives of the individuals that we use for food, clothing, entertainment etc.

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