Album reviews

Matt Choboter – ‘Postcards of Nostalgia’

Matt Choboter – Postcards of Nostalgia

(ILK Music ILK344 LP/CD. Album review by Frank Graham)

Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.


From Keith Tippett to Benoît Delbecq and Eve Risser, improvising pianists continue to find inspiration in John Cage’s seminal works for prepared piano. Canadian pianist and composer Matt Choboter dives deeper than most, adding an array of live electronics to his alternate tunings and magnetic preparations. By placing transducers onto the piano’s soundboard he is able to trigger a real-time chorus of pre-recorded sounds and electronics, “spatializing” the contrasting electro-acoustic timbres within tightly formed sound collages.   

Now based in Copenhagen, Choboter is releasing Postcards Of Nostalgia as his first album of solo piano music. In contrast to the comforting tones of much voguish neo-classical music, Choboter’s microtonal harmonies and ghostly metallic timbres harbour a nagging sense of unease. Sharing similar dream-like qualities with Choboter’s brilliant ensemble projects Hypnagogia and Hypnopompia, his somewhat disorienting music is far from inaccessible but requires sympathetic ears and an adventurous mind. 

Describing the ten pieces as liminal sonic post-cards recalling places and experiences significant in his development as an artist, Choboter draws on memories of studying Indian Classical music in Chennai, exploring ancient Greek myths in Delphi, and encountering Palaeolithic cave art in the Dordogne. He is seeking a sense of connection with this past, and just like the music his inspirations are far from prosaic.

Although superficially flat in its sonic and emotional range, closer listening reveals a wealth of textural and temporal variation. From the opening bars of ‘The Dreamer That Remains’ I was reminded of Naked City’s enigmatic studio farewell Absinthe, though the piece eventually opens out into a more linear form of improvisation. ‘Font-de-Gaumes’ could almost be an exploded view of an ancient clocktower, and there’s something primal in the post-industrial drones of ‘Temptations Towards Sorcery’. ’Pneuma’ juxtaposes the crisp clusters and tempo-less durations of Morton Feldman with something altogether more Balinese, while ‘The Circular Ruins’ is perhaps the most conventionally beautiful of the ten pieces.

Another essential listen from Copenhagen’s most adventurous artist-led jazz and new music label, Postcards Of Nostalgia simultaneously expands and blows the mind.

LINK: Purchase Postcards of Nostalgia

Leave a Reply