by Dave Maier
If you google the name “Matt Shoemaker,” the first page of hits is all about the gentleman pictured here, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. It seems that he has recently undergone season-ending surgery on his pitching arm, a shame as the Angels are still in the mix for an AL wild-card spot. People also naturally search, Google tells us, for his Angel teammates, including pitchers Garrett Richards and Jered Weaver. At the bottom of the page, however, we see eight further related searches, including “matt shoemaker injury” and “matt shoemaker fantasy” (the latter no doubt a reference to “fantasy baseball"). These obviously refer to that same person; but among the eight we also see “matt shoemaker music.” What’s that about?
Clicking, we do find another reference to our ballplayer (referring to his “walk up music,” which is typically played over the PA as a batter approaches the plate to bat, although in this case since our man is a pitcher and plays in the AL, that probably hasn’t happened all year). But we also find several references to another person entirely. One of them reports the sad news that this person, an accomplished sound artist with many releases to his name, recently passed away at a tragically young age.
The Helen Scarsdale Agency is deeply saddened by the death of Matt Shoemaker. He died on August 12, 2017.
Matt was an artist from Seattle, Washington, whose work with sound manifest as some of the most singular, densely compacted, carefully arranged, and hauntingly beautiful transmissions we have not only published but also experienced. Unfortunately, his work remains unknown to many; yet those who take the time to experience it are inevitably transfixed.
Shoemaker leaves behind an impressive catalogue that extends to our friends at Elevator Bath, Mystery Sea and the Masters Chemical Society. He was also an accomplished painter, rendering an equally quizzical visual language of molten, subcutaneously exposed figures. Few had the privilege of seeing this work as it was never exhibited, beyond his instagram channel.
Go to that link for information on how to receive two of Matt's best records for free (add postage for physical copy), and to http://www.elevatorbath.com/contents.html for a couple more (not free but worth it). All of these works can be streamed in part or whole at the bandcamp.com pages of the respective labels.
I offer as well my own humble tribute in the form of a set on my Mixcloud page (or one of them anyway; I seem to have more than one). Mixcloud requires that each set feature at least eight tracks, no more than two by the same artist; so in addition to two lengthy tracks by Matt I have included tracks by Matt’s Elevator Bath labelmate Rick Reed and his Helen Scarsdale Agency labelmates Francisco Meirino and Kate Carr, as well as a couple of field recordings I have made with my trusty Tascam DR-07 digital recorder and either manipulated in the computer or left as they are, and also a brief snippet of a recording of a shortwave radio station which doesn’t seem to be coming in very well (thank goodness).
I do plan to continue my series on the theory and aesthetics of noise and sound, but for today let us simply immerse ourselves in the practice of same as done by one (or more) of its best.