MATTIN: "SONGBOOK VOL. 4"
"Mattin once described his approach to music-making as a matter of 'trying to contradict the preconceptions that people might have, to put a different perspective on what can be done in a performance situation.' And so it was that in 2005, the Basque laptop artist best known (depending on who you ask) for his exquisitely restrained laptop improvisations with Radu Malfatti, Eddie Prevost, and Axel Doerner; his palate-cleansing duet with Tim Barnes at ErstQuake 3; or the deformed, impossibly strange 'rock & roll' he makes in Billy Bao and Josetxo Grieta. This fourth volume is far and away the best and quite possibly the strangest in the 'Songbook' series. Whereas earlier volumes found Mattin ripping away at an acoustic guitar and doing his cheapest, most grating Lou Reed imitation, Vol. 4, recorded live in Tokyo, is a concise electric ensemble set featuring Anthony Guerra on second guitar, Tomoya Izumi shouting as Jean-Luc Guionnet plays sax 'in the toilet,' and Taku Unami punctuates Mattin's anguished vocals with popping bass licks and brief piano phrases. Somehow, the resulting 'songs' suggest a particularly fucked-up, drummerless outing by Fushitsusha. In point of fact, Songbook Vol. 4's closest relatives in the rock & roll canon are Suicide's famously confrontational live shows of the mid-'70s, the Electric Eels at the point of disintegration, or the between-song 'banter' on Reed's Take No Prisoners reimagined as a score for five very exciting young improvisers. It is, in other words, one of the greatest live records ever made."