I've never been secretive about my appreciation for Anne Sulikowski's work as Building Castles Out of Matchsticks. Her sense of environment, the way that she weaves disparate threads of sound and noise into a beautifully cohesive tapestry, the way that she's able to put so much emotion and feeling into electronic music, it's all combined to make me realize how very much I enjoy her work.
With the release of her latest disc "Studios and Airplanes", Anne proves her mastery of the medium once again and validates my feelings that she's one of the premier electronic artists working today.
"I Cut My Wrists With Your Bad Thoughts" opens the disc with a series of looping field recordings where cityscape sounds come together to create a living, breathing, screaming immersive environment. You can't help but feel completely surrounded by what's happening, can't help but feel that you exist only within the space that Anne has made.
"It is Clear That the Rain Would Come" follows, droning poetry spoken/sung in a wind tunnel, messages in bottles thrown out to sea hopeful that somebody will find them. But as with messages in bottles, words get washed away and blurred, pleas get lost and confused, and in the end all that's left is a beautiful stained piece of paper that holds mysteries and secrets and whispers that you'll never hear.
An uptempo beat plays underneath a heavy wall of static in "The Stars Are My Boyfriends", Anne singing sweetly just on the edges of the track, just deep enough in the mix that you can't quite understand the words, and instead you're left to imagine what she's singing, the only clear thought that the stars are her boyfriends, and all the wonder that entails.
"Window Pain Will Be Our Love Song" moves the disc forward with a shuffling urgency, fast beats competing with an oscillating drone to fill out the space. There’s something revelatory about this track, a weight being lifted.
Or maybe a greater strength has been found to carry the same weight?
Skip ahead to "It's So Surprising Just How Quickly Things Can End", where the sounds of falling rain and thunder blend into a wall of drone building in intensity. And out of nowhere a drum pattern begins, giving form and shape to the noise, a beacon around which everything is formed. It's like hope, something to cling onto in the midst of all the darkness.
And then it all comes together. "Somehow You'd Find A Way" brings all of the themes of the disc and sums them all up in an accessible and appealing popsong format. There's a clarity of vision here, a sad resolve overtop deceptively upbeat drumming. It's the sound of realization and acceptance, and in that awareness there's a sense of empowerment, an optimism that things will be different next time, that what's been is gone and that the future holds promise. Hope. And sure enough, disc closer "When Winter is Gone and Spring Comes Back My World Will be Green Again" proves that point, melodies rising and gaining clarity from thick waves of sound, slowly overtaking the darkness.
I've said countless times in the past that Anne has a way of bringing emotion and organicism to her work. With the release of "Studios and Airplanes", Anne has once again shown her skill at breathing life into her pieces, a gift that has helped her develop a very loyal following. Surely it's a gift that will continue to bring her to the attention of those who are willing to try something new.
by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions