Boomkat Product Review:
Fractal fantasies of pastoral electronica and folksy indie-pop blossom in abundance on Matthew Sage’s finely detailed follow-up to a collaboration with Dolphins Into The Future's Lieven Martens last year.
“Like a winding system of trails and paths cutting through a digital forest-scape, M. Sage’s Paradise Crick is shaped by time. Full of wonder and charm, designed patiently and from a rich, curious mulch of synthesized and acoustic sound, the versatile American artist and magic realist’s new suite of music is an imaginary destination and a pastoral fantasy that envisions the natural and fabricated worlds as one.
Matthew Sage is a musician, intermedia artist, recording engineer and producer, publisher, teacher, partner, and parent. Assembling a sprawling and idiosyncratic catalog of experimental studio music between Colorado and Chicago since the early 2010s, recent highlights include The Wind of Things (Geographic North, 2021), an ensemble-recorded expression of bow-splashed nostalgia, and the four seasonal albums of Fuubutsushi, the improvisatory ambient jazz quartet he formed with friends from afar in 2020. Sage renders projects with nuanced velocity and a completist sensibility — when it’s finished, it’s done — which is what makes Paradise Crick, his debut for RVNG Intl., a compelling outlier.
Sage first staked his tent in Crick’s conceptual campground five years ago from his home studio in Chicago (he’s since returned to Colorado, home to the mountains and prairies often personified in his work). He had just read Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, a kaleidoscopic reflection of pastoral America’s shifting identity by way of magical fishing sojourns. Inspired by that feeling, of getting lost but finding oneself in through the outdoors, he amassed over seventy demos documenting a fictional soundtrack for camping. Pull up to this park, and the sign might read, “Welcome to Paradise Crick. Fire Danger Is Low.” The sequence, pruned down to thirteen tracks, courses the dewy mornings, afternoon hikes, and firelit nights of a weekend expedition.
While Sage is not a filmmaker, he views the method of making this album as a similar form of world-building via structure, narrative, formal elements, and editorial refinement. Contrasted with his collaborative craft, here he is a sole auteur reclined in total autonomy, able to improvise scenes and implement special effects at will. A parallel precedent for such unchecked imagination in the M. Sage canon is A Singular Continent, his 2014 album that tilted its compass to a faraway land. Where Continent built its world layering samples as composition, Paradise Crick deploys a balance of accessible song structures with experimental instrumentation and sound design.”