| Craque | Supple
Time: April 09
Media: Digital Download
Info: Supple illustrates the flex and diversity of Craque’s
approach. Founded upon his subconscious processes
the music has been allowed to emerge through
improvisation, experimentation and discovery.
Artist site: http://craque.net/
PDF Press Release: Download
|QUESTIONS | Craque
Who are you?
A performer, composer, improvisor, DJ, instrument
builder, sculptor, writer, lover and technology geek.
Why do you write music?
Putting something together like an album where you
sit down and listen to a specific artifact is not
necessarily my goal, and in my process and
application I end up doing things (on purpose or not)
that encourage a simultaneous experience with
sounds outside of the recording. I am interested in
sound that could be made by some imaginary device
or creature, unique ways of perceiving the
organizations we call music, opening the ear to new
combinations and experiences. I create because I
have an overwhelming desire to do so, one I
sometimes cannot stop, spurred by an even more
esoteric wish to do it poetically, but not trying to say
something as much as just trying to speak genuinely.
How would you describe your music?
As much as it can be, an extension of who I am. I trust
instincts a great deal, I try and coax the subconscious to
act. The sounds themselves come from everything I
hear, both synthesized and sampled, arranged and
chaotic, natural and alien. Improvisation and field
recording hold a central part. Using different types of
microphones I sample things live into an array of loopers,
delays and effects: stones, toys, plants, game calls,
music boxes, hand percussion, wind instruments, shells,
radios and whatever else happens to be around.
Sometimes my tracks are very close to the original
improvisation, sometimes they are an amalgamation of
several. The reason I like sampling things directly isn't so
much because I want to use my own samples, but rather
a desire to get at the very core sound of the object. I'm
thinking this way about electricity now too, building
synths and kits from scratch instead of buying a
As for more recognizable descriptions, the things I do
range from difficult listening and noise to structured
dance rhythms and regular song forms. I never stay
long in any one style or genre, and most often I don't
even know the form of what I'll write until it occurs to
me to write it. My collegiate composition study creeps
into things as much as my love of techno or ego-defying
What does this album mean to you?
This is truly my first full length ever released, so I really
feel accomplished with the whole album's construction;
a great deal of thought was put into the order of how
things blend together. I like to compost things, and in
some cases entire tracks have very blurred boundaries,
while at other points I wrote new pieces to conjoin them.
At some point this album became a larger entity made of
separate movements, and I tried to polish that aspect
with a sense of poetry. I especially dig the contrast of
song-form pieces alongside the expressionistic ones.
Can you elaborate on some of your creative
I only vaguely understand how to get into the creative
process. Sometimes it's like I'm directing something
over which I don't quite have control, there is a corner
or precipice I constantly feel next to me, and at some
point I know how to navigate it. An important aspect
of my creativity is embracing possibilities by letting go.
I don't write synthesizer music very much, nor do I
use very many plugins. My process is discovery
oriented and sometimes extremely manual, searching
audio for new things, or trying to sculpt it to what I
want to hear, and oftentimes coming up with
wonderful accidents simply by giving myself some
sort of cognitive dissonance through my choice of
materials or method or whatever. For example, I like
saving little slices of samples from edits or accidents,
which themselves get supplanted into other tracks
(not necessarily the one I'm working on), mangled
and rearranged, and found on the cutting room floor
in some other form that itself gets recycled, and so
on. In a way for me it's a lot like using thematic
melody and harmony, only I am using sound samples
as the seed material. The development of the motifs
through my music is often heard directly in the
samples, or the way they grow and re-contextualize.
What are your future plans?
For one, to never stop writing music. But my dream is
to open a performance space and restaurant with my
wife, where we can foster experimental music in the
community. One thing I've found about the LA region
is there are much less tight groups of artists and
musicians than in Chicago, New York or DC. One
problem I see is the lack of places to host the kinds
of grassroots music and art that make a community
special, I'd like to try and someday help fix that.
|REVIEWS | Supple
Following on from the exceptional electronic excursions of Ultre's The Nest And The Skull, the Audiobulb label
returns with another remarkable album. Although instrumental electronica has suffered as a genre of late,
outings like this show glimmers of all-important vital signs. Craque monsieur Matt Davis weaves together
threads of acoustic and improvised sounds into a heavily processed nebula of beautiful noise, micro-beats and
general digital abstraction. At its best the album offers a babbling brook of amplified textures and digitised loops,
sounding subtle and nuanced throughout 'Supple Network' and the delicately processed 'Navfrakure', while
'Diaphanous Oblic' is suggestive of Vladislav Delay making a mobile phone ringtone. Ace..
Matt Davis is the man behind Craque, a training in classical composition and operatic performance enabling him
to concoct a specimen of sharp-minded, mainly loop-based, soothingly bubbly music originating from diverse
types of sonority including acoustic guitars, environmental repercussions, synthesized/sampled dissociations.
The sonic designs are often pristinely straightforward, in a positive way: there aren’t excesses and/or
surpluses, if not for some preventable over-fragmentation of the rhythmic pulse in a couple of instances. This
lucidness is all the more remarkable as it is surrounded by a whimsical yet entrancing ambience of weirdly
reverberating, high-quality electroacoustic protuberances, placing these tracks in the lands bordering with
clever techno on one side and sampladelia on the other, with occasional hints (involuntary, methinks) to
Muslimgauze as a plus. However, it’s the overall sense of order and precision that enriches the experience,
which - in case someone’s still doubtful - is rewarding under several aspects.
Audio Bulb Recordings is a label focusing on exploratory electronic music with some quite interesting releases in
its back catalogue. Present album from the artist Craque also is a truly pleasant album. Behind the name you find
the US-born composer Matt Davis who has studied classical composition. The acoustic background is used to
give a nice organic touch to the IDM-based sound world. Acoustic guitar strums bounces along complex IDM-
rhythm textures and clicking pulses waving in and out of the sound picture. A beautiful work that combines gentle
musical tones with demanding approaches to electronic sound art.
THE SILENT BALLETT
Matt Davis has been releasing music since 2001, with the majority of his work thus far distributed via net labels,
often for free. The last couple of years have seen an increase in his productivity, with a steady stream of EPs
and experimental pieces emanating under the auspices of Craque. Supple is probably the highest profile release
to date, and one that draws together the various strands of Davis's recent work. Both impressionistic pieces
drawn from improvisation and more defined, percussive tracks are to be found here.
Certainly in Davis's eyes, Supple is the pinnacle of his output to date. A glance around his website and blog
shows that Davis puts a lot of thought into his work and methodology - maybe it’s the format used but he does
seem an introspective sort - and he sees Supple as the culmination of "Months... (actually, no, YEARS) where I
have absorbed things, seen new parts of the world, learned new techniques, sought out what's further; and
this album [has] evolved alongside me." Even without this statement one could have imagined that Davis put a lot
of thought into Supple - after all, this is his first album in some time that people will be paying for.
The over-riding experience of listening to Supple, however, is that much of what Davis absorbed was
electronica (or, if you wish, IDM) of the past twenty years. There's a guitar on the opening track that echoes
Pause-era Four Tet, underpinned later by a bassline that is reminiscent of Aphex Twin, around the time of
Selected Ambient Works 85-92. There’s a bit of Arovane here and there and more besides although to be fair,
Craque's not hiding his influences: on his last.fm page, his top artists chart includes Autechre, Ilkae, Plaid and
Proem, all of whom are present in one way or another on Supple. The influences inform but don't quite
overwhelm the work - it isn't a simple retread of borrowed ideas, but it does make the album seem oddly
conservative, certainly in comparison to the recent Craque free releases (worth checking out - see links on his
homepage). Is it because Davis is aware he's making a work that might break out from the coterie of net label
fans? Did the notion of forming his legacy in a cohesive, album-sized format cause unwanted pressure on his
creative urges? Has he over-thought his own work?
In the end, it comes down to the music contained in those ones and zeroes, and unfortunately too much of
Supple drifts by unremarkably, mostly the more improvisation pieces. "Lucid Crystalin" does nothing, albeit
prettily, for its duration, a fate that happens to "Sextant", although, perhaps realising this, with 90 seconds to go,
Davis shakes us out of our torpor with a few interesting noises. There are a few moments worth the price of
admission, such as the opening, "Topless", which transcends its aforementioned influences to be a quite lovely
piece, and "Leatheroque", which closes the album by featuring the sound of Davis's vocals. But these are just
moments, and many of the tracks just don't have any impact, which is a real shame. A track like "Conductive
Plate" off the Material EP is basically a nine-minute drone piece and yet I find that more compelling than any of
Supple. In the same way, "Matterbuss" off Gamma uses the same tools (an acoustic guitar sample, crunchy
beats) as many of the tracks here but for some indefinable reason sounds more direct, more inventive. Davis is
clearly capable of making great tracks but he seems unable to recreate the magic on Supple - fortunately in
these tricky financial times, the best things by Craque are free. That's what we want.
I've listened to Craque's Supple repeatedly for weeks now, thinking that perhaps it might eventually coalesce
into a recording equal to Audiobulb's other recent releases—Ultre's The Nest & The Skull, He Can Jog's
Middlemarch, and the 1 | Favourite Places compilation—but to no avail. Supple was created by electronic
composer Matt Davis, who has been issuing music since 2001, with most of it until now having been distributed
via net labels, often for free. The palette of sounds he draws upon derives from field recordings and an eclectic
array of samples (e.g., stones, toys, plants, game calls, music boxes, hand percussion, wind instruments, shells,
radios, etc.) which are configured on the fly into loops and effects, the spontaneous dimension indicative of the
centrality of improvisation in Davis's stream-of-consciousness-like approach. Developed through a process that
involves chance and discovery, the tracks feature layers of textures and sampled sounds that the producer
shapes and arranges into rhythm tracks.
"Topless” weaves found sounds samples into fractured and fluidly mutating rhythm structures, with the crackle
and thrum of a funky electronica beat rising to the surface to anchor the material, and eventually give the tune's
treated piano tones and samples some welcome heft and punch. In “Berühren,” acoustic bass and broken beats
stumble and stutter as they're chopped into the shuddering flow and speckled with digital noise, while bell
accents and piano tinkles add ear-catching sounds to an otherwise brooding stream in “Supple Network.” Davis
drops his own voice into the mix in “Sextant” to negligible effect, though the track does eventually cohere into a
mildly arresting rhythm-driven blend of keyboard and guitar elements and ambient squiggles and clicks.
Unfortunately, compared to the other aforementioned releases, Supple underwhelms. With each of its pieces
flecked with ample detail, the recording is anything but slapdash, but it just doesn't cohere into an overly
compelling listening experience. There's nothing that grabs you by the throat and makes you stand to attention,
and consequently Supple comes across as modestly diverting but not much more, maybe because there's no
narrative development or build but instead an even-keeled, shape-shifting flow. Complex mixtures of acoustic,
electronic, and sampled sounds intermingle, but an ongoing play of mutating sound alone isn't captivating enough.
Ultimately, alas, the recording registers as a serviceable but not stunning collection.
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