The Arena of Opportunity

Have previously noted the wonderful Matt Weston for his 2016 release Skate For The Lie, at which point I soon realised I was in over my head with the accomplishments of this under-sung American composer. We’ve got a new 12-inch vinyl called This Is Your Rosemont Horizon (7272 MUSIC #011) released on his own label and, though shortish (12 mins per side give or take) it’s dense enough to convince me we all need to sit down and devote a lot more energy to decoding Weston’s complex electro-acoustic compositions. They are described as “orchestra pieces” on his Bandcamp page, but my sense is that Weston plays and records everything himself; it’s fairly clear at least that he has considerable skills playing percussion and electronics, and there’s a lot of percussive noise and far-out tape manipulation in evidence today. This doesn’t begin to account for the grand scale of the work, something we sensed last time, the feeling that the recording tape alone cannot accommodate the vastness of his ideas and ambitious scope.

One clue is the indication that “multi-dimensional graphic scores” are involved, and even without knowing the details it’s evident that there’s a large amount of information in play, somehow being translated in aural and musical manifestations…what I’m also feeling on today’s spin is the restless, forward-moving nature of Weston’s work, how it develops in unexpected directions, taking across terrains that are unfamiliar and even quite abrasive. There’s something very factual about this, by which I mean it’s far removed from the European schools of composition that prefer to dwell in abstracted realms or speculate on ideas; instead, this Chicago-born creator living in Brooklyn seems to draw his raw material directly from the streets, recasting the 21st-century urban landscape and all its attendant horrors into new aesthetic forms, without once closing his eyes to the squalor and confusion lurking beneath the concrete.

Thematically, there’s also something to do with “stubborn opposition and provocation”, trends which are fully reflected in the querulous, argumentative nature of the music; it sounds like a gigantic chimera at war with itself, holding several contradictory forces inside its belly, eating itself alive – yet still drawing energy from the process. We might want to mention something about the title. It seems that Weston studied under Bill Dixon, the great jazz trumpeter and composer, who pretty much told all students to just get on with it, and not to wait for the “big break” that would ensure them fame and riches for life. More succinctly, he said “this is your Carnegie Hall!” – his way of saying carpe diem. Rosemont Horizon no longer exists under that name as such, but it’s a huge stadium in Illinois used for sport and mega-scaled pop music events. With this impressive release, Weston is pretty much claiming that arena as his rightful property. This reminds me of Jimi Hendrix boasting “gonna buy this town, put it all in my shoe…might even give a piece to you…” from ‘Hear My Train A-Comin’. From 30 April 2018.