Matthew Schickele: Catalog Miniatures
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 90003     Release Date: 2021-09-30

The world’s first mash-up of a record label’s catalog

Notes from the composer:

I made these miniatures for the non-profit record company New World Records in 2009/2010, when the label was experimenting with internet radio. They generously opened their extensive archive of classical, jazz, folk, and field recordings, and I collected samples (usually 1-3 seconds long) and mashed them up.

Each miniature is a collage; short bits from multiple albums, often of different genres, reordered and layered into new textures and new moods. I find the miniature form to be a versatile way to communicate strong, simple statements; with no time for development, miniatures typically feature a destination rather than a journey.

While many of the catalog miniatures were built to create new textures, some were inspired by existing textures; Miniature 24, for example, began with samples from the live recording of Anthony Davis’s opera Amistad — but only the brief moments where the shuffling of feet can be heard as cast members cross the stage. The result is an unusual “opera” where the singers run to and fro for a few minutes but never actually sing. Similarly, Miniature 13 distills two folk songs down to their basic ingredient of sorrow, stripping their stories and leaving only the raw emotion.

In popular music, where mash-ups and remixes are common (indeed where they were invented), the resulting new piece usually involves the addition of a beat — a drum part. Often this beat is the aural signal that you are hearing a new creation. These catalog miniatures, however, break from this tradition; no beat is added. (The few moments of drumming, as with all the other sounds, are sampled from the source material.) But this means that the signal is missing, the aural announcement “this is a new version.” As a result, the listener may not always be able to distinguish where one sample begins and another ends — are the trombone and the violin from the same source recording, or two different ones?

Perhaps this confusion is inevitable. But in the end it is simply a collateral effect of the project’s goal: to celebrate and explore New World Records’ deep, rich catalog, and to encourage others to do the same. — Matthew Schickele

 

Matthew Schickele

Matthew Schickele: Catalog Miniatures

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