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Metatron Architek Percussion

After the Second World War my grandparents dragged a used 1902 upright piano down the road and installed it in their living room. This is the first instrument I can remember. My grandmother’s collection of yellowing song sheets sat in the piano bench my entire life with watercolour illustrations of well-dressed couples dance across each page, beaming out at the reader, overflowing with sentimentality for a dance culture that was slipping away. A beautiful memory, but eventually the piano had to go, and it would go by chainsaw.

When she died, I inherited my grandmother’s musical materials. Beloved music cuts a path through format, technology, and time, an idea that planted the seeds for Metatron. A more fully formed concept came from my 95 year old grandfather. During one visit I was greeted in the garage by a dull chainsaw and a stripped down piano. “Finish the job,” he said. With grim determination and a dull tool, I dismembered my first musical experiences, thinking of the strange place technology holds in our lives. — Eliot Britton

Metatron

Architek Percussion

Eliot Britton

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In the Press

  • Marc Medwin, The Squid’s Ear, October 25, 2017
    The results are miraculous. The deeper you dive, the more you find, and the more you’ve been listening, the greater the rewards.
  • Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no. 112, June 1, 2017
    … le résultat est jubilatoire pour l’auditeur…
  • Will Pearson, The WholeNote, March 1, 2017
    Metatron is a thrilling record…
  • Réjean Beaucage, Voir, February 10, 2017
    … l’un des enregistrements les plus rafraîchissants entendu depuis longtemps.
  • Marc Chénard, La Scena Musicale, February 1, 2017
    Nice work… if you can get it.

Review

Marc Medwin, The Squid’s Ear, October 25, 2017

How deep is the ocean, asks the now-standard tune’s lyrics throughout this half-hour sonic extravaganza. The answer: As deep as the titlewave of sonic signifiers bouncing off the walls of composer Eliot Britton’s diverse, inclusive and warped imagination.

To suggest that Metatron is plunderphonic at its heart is to suggest that Bach and Webern both employed counterpoint, which is to miss the point almost entirely. Reflecting on the piece as a time warp akin to the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 is also something approaching an injustice. Both are true and false, as music can present the simultaneities toward which speech struggles. Aided by the empathetically excellent work of Architek Percussion, Britton offers a series of quantum leaps through the development of technology, its attendant audio history and many of the signifiers therein as viewed through a 21st century lens.

The results are miraculous. The deeper you dive, the more you find, and the more you’ve been listening, the greater the rewards. From the radical percussion works of Varese to the bleeps, brips and braps of early 1980s video games, from Whispering Jack Smith to those ambient tintinnabulations of middle 1970s ECM discs, from swinging Ella Fitzgerald to Blue Skies as it might be heard on the Minus label, all is referenced for listener gratification. If it were that simple, the piece might fail; there is a narrative, a beautifully touching and often laugh-out-loud meta-story of how development and recurrence partner on some vast cosmic dancefloor, converging and diverging in spirals of heartfelt reminiscence. If that weren’t enough, the piece begins and ends in C, more or less. How’s that for convention?

Again, were the recording not absolutely spectacular, those retro-washes of synth magic, the sudden gear-shifts and the constant illusions to old and beloved pop tunes would be lost in the fray. They aren’t, and it is to the credit of all involved that this is one of the most extraordinary, confrontational and often gorgeous trips through timbral history that I’ve encountered.

The results are miraculous. The deeper you dive, the more you find, and the more you’ve been listening, the greater the rewards.

Critique

Réjean Beaucage, Voir, February 10, 2017

Issu de la filière McGill, où tous ses membres ont étudié, le quatuor Architek Percussion (trois percussionnistes «branchés» et un joueur de synthétiseur) offre avec ce disque centré sur une œuvre du compositeur canadien Eliot Britton l’un des enregistrements les plus rafraîchissants entendu depuis longtemps. Augmenté de deux autres percussionnistes, doublant aussi aux électroniques, l’ensemble interprète la musique de Britton avec assurance et précision, le mélange entre les sons percussifs, les abstractions électroniques et les échantillonnages de vieux vinyles provoquant une réjouissante explosion de couleurs. Britton, qui poursuit actuellement un doctorat en composition à McGill, nous donne un bel aperçu des nouvelles directions que peuvent prendre les musiques mixtes grâce aux avancées dans l’instrumentation numérique.

… l’un des enregistrements les plus rafraîchissants entendu depuis longtemps.

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