M. Gira / D. Matz | What We Did | Review

Aquarius Records, San Francisco

...their pairing finds both artists willing to communicate with each other...

At one time, the collaborative project between Michael Gira (Angels of Light / Swans) and Dan Matz (Windsor For The Derby) was called Ourselves, but the two had opted against that in favor of their names. While this may be a silly semantic decision, it promotes the idea of aesthetic equality between two artists instead of the creation of a band with a specific agenda. Both Gira and Matz have developed very strong signature sounds in their respective projects, and their pairing finds both artists willing to communicate with each other and explore means of how to find a common ground between their two distinct sounds. Recently, Gira has ventured more into the singer-songwriter realm, embracing polished orchestrations to support his mythological tales of abjection, sex, love, hate, etc. Matz's Windsor For The Derby has pushed the elements of US post-rock and slow-core together in such a way as to render his mathematically precise compositions emotionally powerful and subtly sublime. In many ways, Windsor For The Derby could be seen as a replication of late period Swans but with the bombastic riffs surgically removed, leaving behind elliptically repetitive structures. Thus, their collaboration isn't as incongruous as might originally appear and the merger between the two sounds never sounds contrived or forced. Gira's deep baritone voice nicely complements the hushed whispers of Matz, while the two alternate between interlocking guitar plucks and strums. Vibes, drums, droning guitars, and delicate electronics flush out the sound. Altogether, "What We Did" is a very strong release within both artists' already impressive catalogues.