MYSTERY SEA 18 | Mathieu Ruhlmann | [Broken Vessels]


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- "These signs open underneath and spill themselves into calm waters, back to their apparent sources.
There is no resemblance with the seabed of nature,
harbouring the broken movements of the sediment...
a ship that has been destroyed at sea, slumbers in a young skin of hydrographic measure.
The water-growing to it’s edges, thalassic, with the blaze of drought.
This forms the landscape setting and indissolubly becomes linked with the rhythms of nature, bathed in oceanic alloy, as though awaiting the return of the drowning remnants.

Let these sayings sink down into the sea."

- Mathieu Ruhlmann, August 2004


Canadian Mathieu Ruhlmann is a sound artist with strong visual roots...
with outstanding releases to his name for labels like S'AGITA, compilation tracks on PETITE SONO & STASISFIELD, unreleased collaboration with Aaron Lennox via the Soulseek p2p community, he has also a whole body of further engaging upcoming work...
Rather naturally, it's a visual element which induced the "Broken Vessels" project, namely an Anselm Kiefer's photograph (contemporary german artist) depicting iron rods in an old bathtub filled with water...
To meet this initial burst of inspiration, Mathieu made some in harbour site specific recordings that were filtered and processed to reveal buried, hidden aspects behind the visible reality, the multiple facets of an ever transforming organic life...
"Broken Vessels" engenders a dislocation, a fracture where something new & undefined slowly emerges on the shifting surface of a shapeless ocean...
Tides of drones, a world of corroded echoes, underwater clanks & resonances, floundering indecipherable wrecks...
A mysterious crucible of continuous sparkling activity...
"Broken Vessels" points to the range of possibilities & reorganization,
to a state where each friction generates a birth,
every stone becomes a garden,
and every wave a new virginal sea to explore...


01. Part I > unrar + listen !
02. Part II
03. Part III > unrar + listen !




CHAIN D.L.K.|Eugenio Maggi
Rated : 4 stars out of 5
Third release from Canadian soundmaker Mathieu Ruhlmann (after a cdr on S'Agita and a 3" ep on Taâlem), "Broken Vessels" is a sombre, nocturnal soundscape which manages to achieve what many electroacoustic or ambient works lack, i.e. an emotional/psychic grasp on the listener. Based on the manipulation of a flow of natural recordings (possibly only water), the three tracks gurgle, scrape and echo throughout, depicting barren underwater territories and conveying the distressing feel of being stuck in the belly of an adrift submarine. What lacks in terms of variation - as all tracks are quite similar in their strategies - is easily made up for by the genuinely nightmarish listening experience. This is one of those (actually few) ambient records that you have to resist and eventually surrender to to fully appreciate them - and surely one of the darkest interpretations of Mystery Sea's night-drone concept.

VITAL WEEKLY 458|Frans De Waard
The second encounter for me with the work of Mathieu Ruhlmann, following his 'Two Stills Concrete' on S'Agita (see Vital Weekly 399). For this new work, Ruhlmann (despite his German sounding name from Canada) took his inspiration from a photo by Anselm Kiefer: iron rods in an old bathtub filled with water. To this end Mathieu went to a harbour and recorded sounds there of water, but also ships bouncing against the harbourwalls and the like. Back home the material is transfered to the computer and extremely filtered, although throughout the water sounds can be recognized throughout these three lengthy pieces. Huge walls of reverb make this into a particular dark ambient work. More Side Effects than Hypnos, if you catch my drift. Maybe some of the processing is too simple (adding reverb is something that is not really an interesting tool when composing), but especially the first two parts have a good combination of water sounds, electronic processings and filtered field recordings
That makes things quite nice for this one.

vital weekly

Rated : 7 out of 10
A beautifully packaged CD-R from the intriguing Mystery Sea label out of Belgium finds Canadian sound artist Mathieu Ruhlmann taking a plunge into icy depths. "Broken Vessels" is a three-part journey through the Arctic on a rickety ship. These complex, barely-there compositions are cerebral. The minimalistic nature of them only enhances their effect. Opening with a 30-minute track, like Ruhlmann does here, is not an easy undertaking, but he pulls it off. "Part 1" is an example of Ruhlmann's sonic mastery. Each subtle texture, perfectly placed to make the whole piece much greater than the sum of its parts. This is delicate stuff, but the cracks in the armor are few and far between. "Part 2" continues the journey, though tiny rays of sunlight creep through the dense grey blanket that encloses your world. It is nothing more than a glimmer of hope that you'll escape. "Part 3" ends the misery as the pearly gates open and welcome you with open arms. There is something utterly ghostly about this piece - it's fantastic. "Broken Vessels" is a challenging listen, for sure, but these spacious droning compositions are well worth that effort.

foxy digitalis

TOKAFI |Tobias Fischer  --- NEW !
Sometimes, an artist will have to go to places whence most listeners will be unwilling to follow. An idea will force itself upon him and he’ll know he will have to see it through without once even glancing at the consequences or thinking about whether anyone out there will care. Such is the case with “Broken Vessels”, one of the early works of Mathieu Ruhlmann, released in autumn of 2004 and a triptych of tracks which has lost nothing of its majestic extremeness .
And truly, this is an album of frightening proportions and of relentless radicalism, a monolith of sound carved into heavy stone over years, the way water slowly erodes even the most solid granitic rock on its path through time. The opening movement already seems to defy all common sense and conventions, a thirty minute-long barren gaze at a bled-out landscape. It helps to know that Ruhlmann, who is a pivotal part of the amazingly vibrant Canadian underground, started out as a visual artist in search of accompanying sounds and that “Broken Vessels” was inspired by Anselm Kiefer’s leaps from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional in general and an old bathtub filled with iron rods in particular. This certainly is music in search of an image, be it on paper, canvas or the projection plains of the mind. On the surface, there is nothing more than a seething grumble from the deep, shreds of see-through drones scanning the darkness like fluorescent fishes ten miles below and myriads of microscopic sound events being born and dying off at every moment and dispersed into all corners of the aural spectrum. Ruhlmann went into the harbor for suitable sampling sources and he has returned with the noises of ships, metal against metal, machines and men, ore going down a waterfall and waves breaking on the harbor wall, only to distort them beyond recognizability in the composing process. These unnaturally organic recordings populate the moors and swamps of the music like insects swarming a prehistoric everglade and it is them who are at the core of these three tracks, not the greyish harmonic static breathing underneath. Which means that measured in terms of traditional Western music, there is next to nothing going on here and “Broken Vessels” leaves merely an ephemeral impression when listened to in the background. It is only on closer inspection, that it reveals its power, forces its audience to look into its depths, deal with its impact and to discern the subtle differences between its three different parts.
There is a good chance that many people will not want to wait for that to happen, that they will find this too dark, too long, too same-ish, too monochromatic or even outright boring. All of which is even true in a sense. But at the same time, the unrelenting vastness of this vision develops a irresistible pull, forcing the receptive ear to return and to slowly understand, just like it pulled in Mathieu Ruhlmann, forcing him to stay true to the purity of his idea against all odds and prejudice.


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