Summer 2013 performances

by Charles Matthews on May 7, 2013, one comment

There are a couple of fairly unique Augmented Gamelan related performances coming up in London over the next couple of months, with possibly more to be confirmed.

Algorave No Dark Places festival

First off on the 16th May I’ll be playing a solo set as Ardisson for the first time in about three years – the last time I played under this name was in the Foundry just before it closed down.  This will be part of an Algorave event, which the organisers describe as based around “sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetetive conditionals”.  This seemed like a perfect opportunity to adapt the Mipilan software framework to put out something resembling dance music.  I’ve been working on a patch to send out Sync-24 directly from my sound card to control a couple of the classic Roland boxes, and all being well the signals will be interpreted back gamelan-style in a kind of bizarre cross-idiomatic feedback loop.  The chances are it’s not going to sound very much like gamelan, but I’m planning on taking a couple of bonang pots down for a bit of added resonance.

Kethuk with 303 and 606

There are some fantastic acts playing on the night including Cursor Miner, who I used to play alongside fairly regularly back in the days of the Seed Records nights, and Slub, who inspired me to get into algorithmic music in the first place when I saw them perform in a converted public toilet about twelve years ago.  Buy tickets here:

Then the Augmented Gamelan group will be playing in the No Dark Places festival on June 1st.  We made our debut in the Union Chapel this time last year as part of the Daylight Music series of events, and since then the project has mostly been on hold while various members of the group engage with other projects (in my case a PhD thesis and further development of the Mipilan software, which is also central to this project).  I hope we might be able to get some audio and video up soon, but for now you can hear a playlist of some of the development versions of the pieces here:


We’ll be playing a developed version of the Daylight Music set on (or rather, in) the Lagoon stage, which is a converted swimming pool; hopefully this should make for an interesting acoustic experience.  If not, that’s what the electronics are for.  If you come along please be sure to listen to Isnaj Dui as well, who will be playing the same stage earlier in the day and makes beautiful (often instrumental/loop-based) music as well as playing Balinese gamelan in the St Lukes Community group.  Buy tickets here:

Some other gamelan related events coming up this summer:

The Southbank Gamelan Players will be joining groups from across the country on the 6th and 7th July to celebrate 25 years of gamelan at the Southbank Centre.  There are two ticketed events for this weekend including collaborations with musicians and dancers from ISI Solo and Australia – book here:

Siswa Sukra, the other group I play with regularly, will also be performing over the course of the weekend.  You can also catch Siswa Sukra at Clapham Common bandstand on the 14th July – see their website here:

Serocell: Kind Encounters

by Charles Matthews on April 24, 2013, no comments

Kind Encounters is a set of tracks made by Ben McDermott using the latest version of Mipilan, a composition and performance framework based on conventions of realtime interpretation from Javanese gamelan.  A couple of months ago I updated the software with a few new features: a synthesised gong komodhong, cleaner gender samples, and a few tweaks to the user interface.

As with the previous set (Pattern Recognition), these are improvised within the software framework and recorded in one take without any further manipulation.  It’s a limited palette but Ben really makes it his own, weaving bowed gender notes around drones and deconstructed gong notes.

For more of Ben’s work see and

Mapping demos

by Charles Matthews on March 17, 2013, no comments

It’s been difficult to find time to work on the Max side of things lately but this week I have been adding some new functionality to Mipilan – including MIDI out, new synthesis options and samples.  The new version should be available to download soon, once I have worked out a few bugs and updated the documentation.

For the time being here are a couple of previews – see the SoundCloud links for full descriptions:

@serocell: “pattern recognition” (mipilan demos)

by Charles Matthews on October 21, 2012, no comments

This is a series of recordings made by @serocell, aka Ben McDermott, on the 15th October 2012.  They were recorded directly to stereo aiff and are presented here unedited and unmastered:


Earlier this week I completed the first standalone version of the Mipilan software.  Please see this post for more information.  This is part of a larger set of patches I have been developing in Max/MSP and JavaScript for my own compositions . It’s based around a small ensemble of instruments I have been putting together, and it’s quite a limited setup in terms of sampled instruments and synthesis.

The pattern generation is quite specific too.  It’s what might be called a psuedo-algorithmic approach based on ideas from traditional Javanese music.  The user can input a central melody (what we might refer to in Javanese terms as a balungan), and choose from a couple of options to interpret it with the sound of sampled bronze keys and volume envelopes on fixed-frequency sine waves.

I thought it might be interesting to set it loose in the wild and see what other people might come up with based on these parameters, particularly without any prior knowledge of Javanese gamelan or at least its playing conventions.

Ben is a sound artist and musician originally from the UK but currently located in Sydney.  We’ve been collaborating on and off for about ten years and he has set up a label called Unclassed Media that has released some of my experimental work alongside his own output and others.  He was kind enough to volunteer to test the first version of the software out and I figured this might just be a case of making sure that it made any sound at all.  However, knowing Ben as I do, I realised it was probably a good idea to quickly build in some recording functionality.  Having watched the demo video and with a bit of help through iChat he came back with these recordings the same day.

Mipilan software

It’s very interesting for me to listen back to this.  I’ve spent a fair bit of time listening to the software working in the background and it seems to work quite well for ambient music generation.  By the third and fourth recordings it really feels like Ben is starting to use it to compose and perform.  Just making it his own, and not making any concerted effort to fit in with an idea of composing for gamelan and electronics.  The sampled sounds I had sent with the package are quite rough, including a lot of traffic noise on the bowed notes, but he has chosen to emphasise these at times to great effect.

All in all it captures some nice moments –  in the software development itself, something to feed on, the first time I have really felt comfortable about sharing such a specific framework with someone who might set out to deliberately misuse it and make it his own.  But it’s the sense of exploration and subtle touches that Ben has brought to this that really make it a pleasurable listen for me.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to these please consider supporting Unclassed Media by buying some of the back catalog on Bandcamp.


Art and Healing

by Charles Matthews on October 18, 2012, no comments

On the 28th October 2012 I will be involved in an event taking place at the New Diorama Theatre near Regents Park in London.  I have been working with dancer/performer Rebecca Woodford-Smith on a collaborative piece involving movement and an original composition.  This has mostly been long-distance through email communication, sharing files through Soundcloud and Dropbox, and limited rehearsals in person.

We have been working closely with paintings by Oi Nuen Sprunt (see image above), which will be on display in the space and form a backdrop for the performance.  In response to this and through dialog with Rebecca I have attempted to explore the theme of damage and healing through textural and spatial exploration, and some indeterminate processes.  The piece uses the setup from the Union Chapel performance as a starting point: bowed and struck gender, slenthem, and bonang prepared with transducers and contact microphones, as well as environmental sounds.

Bonang and transducer setup for recording of the Shoutcry Room piece.

Bonang and transducer setup for recording of the Shoutcry Room piece.

It is mostly pre-recorded, to be mixed in the space. This has allowed for some interesting processing that would have been difficult to realise with live players, and also for the movement to tie in and work against the sound in a predictable manner.  This is the first time I have worked on this sort of collaboration and it has been very interesting to see how Rebecca’s movement has tied in.

I developed the Mipilan software as a tangent of my main patch to work on some of the random sequences in this composition.  I hope to make this  available for download soon.  For more information see this post:

This performance is part of a larger cross-disciplinary collaboration.  It will be followed by a performance by the London Playback Theatre.  The event is a fundraiser to help travel costs for Playback AZ to take their work to children in Fukushima. Tickets are priced at £25 (£15 concessions) and must be booked in advance by emailing

Flyer for ART & HEALING at the New Diorama Theatre Oct 28 2012

Facebook event:

Daylight Music @ Union Chapel, 30th June 2012

by Charles Matthews on June 27, 2012, no comments

This weekend will see the project’s first full performance.  We will be playing as a small ensemble (5 players including computer/electronics), focussing on vocal parts, the gender – a set of bronze keys placed over resonators and played with soft mallets, and a variety of small kettle gongs I picked up at and antique market during recent trips to Solo.

The programme will consist of new arrangements of traditional pieces, ranging from sparse accompaniment of sung poetry (macapat) to stretched out versions of gong cycles based on old ceremonial gamelan.  The instruments are gathered from various sets allowing for subtle play on differences in tuning and beating tones to be extended and manipulated with the computer.  In some cases the computer will play the sounds through transducers attached directly to the instruments, essentially turning them into very resonant speakers.

This performance has been some time in the making and brings together ideas that I have been working on with various people both here and in Java.  Hopefully this will be the starting point for a lot more collaboration!

The event will take place at the Union Chapel as part of their Daylight Music series, Saturday 30th of June.  The event is free and runs from 12 noon until 2pm.  Other artists appearing are Dan Amor and The Sea & I.

More details on the Union Chapel website here:

Here are some sounds and images from the rehearsal/development process:

Tenuous Links

by Charles Matthews on September 15, 2011, no comments

Tenuous Links is a solo piece I developed in the summer of 2011, based around a balungan interpretation patch I was working on in Max/MSP and a set of small gongs and input/output-type transducers.  It started life as a 20 minute performance for the Placard Headphone Festival in Sheffield, and so headphones are recommended (lower frequencies might not be audible through some speakers).

I recorded four or five different versions over a couple of months. Most of the techniques and bits and pieces of the software have since been integrated in performance with live musicians.

This is the version played at the Placard Headphone festival: