Catalin Matei

artist in residence October 2017, Romania /


During my residence in Vienna I am interested in expanding my work regarding the research of cathedral organs. For a sound designer and recordist, the organ is what the whale is for the marine biologist - a tremendously vast subject of research. Being basically the only instrument that you can study from the inside out, it offers the perfect scenario for exploring every detail of the anatomy of an instrument. My interest is following the path of the sound, from the moment the hand touches the key till the moment the sound comes out. The intricate mechanical labyrinth of the organ is a concert that the audience seldom hears. The air, the valves, the motors, the electromagnetic circuits, the cables, the they all play along with the resulting sound. Sometimes, there is no music, only sound. I would like to employ the entire arsenal or recording devices in a non-instrusive manner so that while the organ is playing, I can have the “negative” recording of the organ playing - all the sounds with the least amount of familiar organ sounds. I’ve already tested this technique at the Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary in Sibiu and it would be awesome if the same thing could happen during the residence. From this point of view, Vienna is a goldmine with it’s more than 20 church organs, some of which are used nearly every day. The amount of material that could be gathered there is outstanding.


Catalin Matei (Sillyconductor) has always been interested in questioning the old methods of playing or investigating, about the relationship between music, conceptual art and humour. Having graduated law school and having spent nearly 11 years writing for the best social and political satire magazine in Romania made him more aware of the fact that there are at least two sides to every story. Also, his work as a hifi and high-end audio equipment reviewer has trained his ear to all sorts of mysteries regarding the audible world. Cables that have different sound - being able to hear the directionality of microns through very exquisite audio systems, defining the sound for each country in relation with the musicality of its language, all these represented the perfect training ground for what later became an obsession - searching for the most intimate details in soundscapes.
In the past years, Sillyconductor’s research has diversified:
- the field recording part, recording anything from underwater worlds to nearly extinct rural occupations for Astra Village Museum in Sibiu. Vibrations, electromagnetic interference, binaural recordings, subsonic or hypersonic frequencies
- the workshops part, training children to listen and make monstrous noise through the Sgomot
- the video research part - employing custom made electronics to discover the glorious moment when every electronic bit is approaching its end, be it an LCD screen or a puny resistor
- the performing part. Sillyconductor is mostly interested in referencing classical and contemporary music. Emulating Conlon Nancarrows mechanical piano with a custom game-like console or employing 100 golden maneki neko cats to emulate Ligeti’s “Poeme Symphonique” are just metaphors that are not without irony.

Selected_Works-Sillyconducto.pdf (pdf, 4.6 mb)