Matthew D. Gantt Displays Digital Wizardry and Compositional Prowess on 'Diagnostics'

BY Bryon HayesPublished Apr 24, 2020

Electronic composer, conceptual theorist and educator Matthew D. Gantt is an individual at the forefront of the use of immersive media, such as virtual reality, as an arts medium. One of his most recent endeavors has been to set up, a virtual performance space that aims to provide a venue for physical-digital experimentation. In times fraught with forced social isolation, spaces like this are the future of human interaction.

Gantt also makes music somewhat removed from cyberspace, in that its primary medium is a spool of magnetic tape wrapped in a plastic shell. Diagnostics is his first outing with the Orange Milk crew but make no mistake: his hyperactive sonic assemblages are right at home on the label. The cassette format, while seemingly antithetical to Gantt's ultra-modern leanings, actually serves as a grounding rod, bridging the future and the past.

Diagnostics has distinct track titles, but the music seems to blend with a fuzzy logic, in which distinct motifs are brought into focus one at a time in succession. The digital glyphs of "Patella I GM Expo" become blurry as the disembodied voices and mangled MIDI instrumentation of the title track take shape. This rapid-fire procession of alien imagery casts a kaleidoscopic haze over the entire cassette, while also serving to tie the entirety into a cohesive package.

With Diagnostics, both Gantt's digital wizardry and his compositional prowess are on display, and the result is a dizzying collection of sounds crafted into a work of conceptual art.
(Orange Milk)

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