Wilhelm Matthies

Wilhelm Matthies, born 1959, studied visual arts at the Universities of South Carolina and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When also studying at U. of Illinois-Chicago, he began an interest in designing acoustic instruments based on blending aspects of historical world instruments.

In the last few years, his ability to compose visually, design and build a line of instruments and to play the instruments has merged. In particular, he has composed drawings that feature contrasts and blends meant to be performed in poetically oriented (as opposed to narrative) cyclical variations. They are open ended compositions with the expectation of making full use of the sonic qualities of the instrument. The instrument is designed to accommodate a large range of sound qualities.

When looking at and reflecting on events in his life and in his surroundings, the cyclical variation format seems to him to embody the way that events are often experienced. Each moment in performance is thus connected to every other moment by commenting on the memory of the moment, while also being present to it but also anticipating the future within the boundaries of a particularly contoured event. The overall structure is planned and the details are improvised.

Instrumentally, pieces are mostly bowed, sometimes plucked, but always pushing the edge of sounds that can be made on this current line of instruments called mosesa. Often the sounds are transitioning between harmonics, overtones and purer tones, while also glissando. So a main, central idea is that the music expresses moments of impermanence viewed and heard from various simultaneous angles.

Wilhelm Matthies has also performed free improvisations and graphic compositions, in particular with Paulo Chagas, Matthias Boss, John Daly (aka Tunedin52), Hervé Perez, Guy-Frank Pellerin, Stefan Schmidt, George Christian, Mehata Hiroshi (Mehata Sentimental Legend), Paul Mimlitsch, among others, mostly via internet collaboration. Recently, he has also played live free improvisations and has also used graphic compositions live with musicians centered in Milwaukee, including Jason Wietlispach, Mark Mantel, Hal Rammel, Joshua Lesniak, David Are, Paul Westfahl, Cody Steinmann, Rick Ollman, Jay Mollerskov and Rob Lundberg.

Wilhelm Matthies is the creative director of the micro net label, darkpebble-bluewave.

Photo by Gina Litherland


Matthies Publications:

Passage (Solo album)
July 2015

Maqtred (Schmidt and Matthies)
July 2015

Oak Creek Ensemble-Live at Circle A (ensemble performances)
February 2015

breathing (solo album)
November 2014

First Gathering (ensemble performances)
February 2014

Danee (Felippe Barbosa and Wilhelm Matthies)
November 2013

departures (Wilhelm Matthies, John Daly and Paulo Chagas)
October 2013

clouds (Matthias Boss, Paulo Chagas, Wilhelm Matthies)
August 2013

Solo contributions on compilation albums with Petroglyph Music, AN MOKU, and Ilse

Hanendans (Paul Mimlitsch, Wilhelm Matthies, Martin Hoogeboom)
February 2015

Original Instrument concert, Live at the RAM, 4-22-12 (Hal Rammel, Eric Leonardson, Wilhelm Matthies and Kenosha FreeGagaku Ensemble)
May 2012

Moving through dimensions (Wilhelm Matthies and Hervé Perez)
April 2012

FreeGagaku-leaves sway, birds fly (EP, Wilhelm Matthies and Hervé Perez)
January 2012

RiverFoot-RealityRubs (solo album)
December 2011

Roadside Distractions (ensemble performances)
September 2014

Taking to pieces, heaping together (Wilhelm Matthies and Sleeping On Lotus Ashes)
December 2012

Lark [markings](Paulo Chagas and Wilhelm Matthies)
March 2012