According to Mathew Roth’s Bandcamp bio, he is an American composer who seeks through his music “to convey the feeling of immersion into the natural world, using classical instruments with a modern style.”
His album, Immersion, is a 9 track journey through what I consider to be gentle introspection. Listening through to this album is an undeniable pleasure. With limited instrumentation, Piano played by Mathew Roth and very ably supported by Amy Peterson on Violin and Suzanne Maerz on Cello, and what sounds like a very “live” sound to me, the music is of necessity quite minimalist.
RELEASE DATE: 09 June 2014 LABEL: Self-Released
The initial track, Tea House which evokes a meditative mood with chimes and gongs and what sounds like a crackling fire in the background before a closing door and footsteps. The reverse happens at the end of last track, Body Of Leaves and it does work very well to make listening to the whole a definite experience with a start and an end.
There’s a soundtrack quality to this album that I like. When I close my eyes I feel as though I am sat in a moving car staring through the window at a cityscape dotted here and there with lights and made dreamlike by rain drops streaking down the glass. It makes me feel like a child and an adult at the same time. I would like to see how differently I experience this album by having it playing through headphones as I wander in the woods near where I live.
There are no harsh edges to the music on offer here but shades of yearning and melancholy make themselves clear through soaring, sustained violin notes and dissonant piano parts. The strength of this music is how it draws memories out of me and allows me to look at them while buffered by the hope that is a counterpoint to the more introspective material on offer. Rusted Wings Take Flight is a particularly uplifting track that shines through with positive emotion to my ears.
Due to the textures involved, particularly the prominent violin, I am at times reminded of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Most notably on The Fall of Ash & Embers which would only need some drums and guitars to fit comfortably as a track on F#A# Infinity. I wish the cello was a little more prominent throughout as I do love the earthy sound of the instrument and often on this recording it is overshadowed by the violin.
If I have complaints about this album it is really to do with the production. For the most part it works well. There’s a very organic feel about it and whilst the music does indeed immerse you in thoughts and feelings, you could also be sat in a relatively small room listening to these three musicians play the pieces live. Where is falls down is with little additional noises that I believe are captured from the piano. The noise of notes sticking and/or piano stool creaking really interferes with my pleasure in the final track which is without doubt one of the most beautiful on the album.
Overall this is a delightful piece of music and I look forward to hearing more from Mathew Roth in the future. Be sure to have a look at his website and his Facebook page (Roots and Air) as he also offers sheet music for some of his works along with interesting video clips and links.