THE LOSS of a life partner, an intimate; for many of us an unimaginable experience, and one that words would fail to convey, either in the expression of or the condolences to the mourning.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Matt Evans was left devastated by the death of his partner, Devra Freelander; and as the composer of the critically acclaimed New Topographics set from last year, his route to at least the beginning of catharsis lay through sound.
Thus arrives a new album, touchless, a tender collection of glacially paced, beautifully considered and spacious meditations in grief, loss and attempting to wrestle meaning from such an event.
With that new album out on Whatever’s Clever on June 25th, Matt has just unveiled a second single and accompanying short film, for “Firn”. It’s all adorned around with tape decay, Matt’s bedrock of piano melody trembling in the evocative, hazy tape deck reproduction, lamenting; that piano in twin fado with sonorous, ringing harmonics courtesy violinist Elori Saxl,.
Matt calls “Firn” “a nostalgic simulation of an immersive, slow-motion snow globe.”
The video, directed by Gracelee Lawrence, is an expedition through a virtual reality universe, filled by a refracted orb folding in on itself, morphing between two and three dimensions. And the track’s title? A firn is a geological term for partially compacted granular snow in the intermediate stage before becoming glacial ice, a reference to the artistic practice of Matt’s partner, sculptor and eco-feminist Devra.
The six tracks of touchless are beautiful, ephemeral, picaresque and humanistic, and would be absolutely appealing to fans of Sarah Davachi and Ben Seretan; the latter of whom’s recent lovely piano essays you can find here.
Matt says that Devra was a light, and that through her life and art, she worked tirelessly to imagine ways of expressing empathy and love on a geological scale.
touchless is composed of three compositional couplets: “Arcto 1” and “2”, “Fluorescent Sunrise” and “Solar Silhouette”, “Touchless” and “Firn”; in which he reaches back through time to correspond with Devra through archive tape recordings and responses to both her film work and her sculpture; and he calls on the double bass work of Tristan Kasten-Krause, the violin of Elori Saxl and the tenor sax of David Lackner to lend judicious coloration throughout the album.
touchless has been a way for Matt to externalize his experiences and make them real outside of himself – not about putting them behind him, but to crystallise some meaning and sentiment, gain knowledge. Ultimately, it’s his way of reaching through the void to touch something lost, and to remember how real those experiences are.
And of course, the album comes with artwork by Devra.
Matt Evans’ touchless will be released by Whatever’s Clever Records digitally and on CD on June 25th and is available to pre-order now at Matt’s Bandcamp page.