Press

Augustana Observer , Rock Island, Illinois, April, 2011
on M2Duo – Matthew Burtner and Mike Straus recital
“It was earth-shattering . . . literally. the entire space of Wallenberg reverberated with the waves of noise. It was bombarding yet remarkable; the loudness thrilled me, and I felt like I was in a cocoon of surrounding force.”
full review

Chamber Music Today, Kansas City, December 2010
Matthew Burtner’s “A’aa expresses deep ecology at a primeval, violent, chaotic, low frequency- spectrum, convincingly conveying the notion that human affairs are puny compared to stochastic geophysical mechanical processes: not only beyond our control but largely beyond the reach of human technologies even to monitor or measure or predict. Burtner’s Nature is uncaring; however, it is not malevolent. It does not wreak shock and awe on all sentient life-forms, human and otherwise. Instead, the shrieks and rumblings of the Earth pushing viscous molten rock are surprisingly benign; nothing is imminently about to explode; this Guatemalan volcano is somewhat like standing very close to a powerful waterfall that is not going anywhere and is not going to kill us.”

Sonhors e-Zine, Rennes, France, April 2009
” Matthew Burtner plays with beauty, coolness and space. Halfway between chamber music and sound sculpture! Dialogues, modulations, swirl, noise, dissonance, metallic roar, crackle: nothing can break the expressive unity.”

Max Schaefer, Further Noise, London, UK, 2009
“there is a strong sense of circular causality, the players and instruments, now strewn with tin foil, colluding or at least co-constituting each other in the seemingly blind surge into a dissonant, almost ecstatic anti-chorus of metallic shrieking, stresses, and crackle…a most trenchant experience in ritual.”

David Gregson, San Diego Arts
Forget Debussy and Monet. Burtner’s Snowprints achieves impressionism though different means. Conceived for flute, cello, piano and electronics, the piece literally and figuratively incorporates “white noise,” the sounds of snow swooshing and crunching and swirling. evocative music. There is something of the Wallace Stevens jar-placed-in-the-wilderness effect going on here: the instruments gain meaning from the natural sounds and vice versa… evocative music.

CVillain, Charlottesville Virginia, November 9, 2007
on Technosonics VIII at Live Arts
“Just for going, you’re officially allowed to drop “uber” in conversation without soundling like you’re trying too hard. You’ll be officially cool. Uber officially cool. UVA’s Matthew Burtner is kind of a big deal and definitely a genius, and his musical concoctions will be illuminated with experimental video. ”

C-Ville, Charlottesville Virginia, November 9, 2007
“Putting the mental back in instrumental”

Juan Miguel Perea, Donostilandia
” The works of Burtner expand music to include sonic materials… pieces in which the shifting slip of a crystal, or tracks in the snow-covered ground, or transforming spheres, or the shakings of leaves extend the mental impressionist landscape, a minimalist atmosphere evoking the experimental works of Man Ray in the peak of surrealism. …The concert in its totality could be conceived like a parenthesis of perceptive suspension for the listener, an immersion in a sonorous and visual reality of fractals, beautiful, like the color of a thought.”

Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard, International Concert Review, 2006
Matthew Burtner, who grew up north of the Arctic circle. Burtner’s Fragments from Cold uses shivering vocals – “sh-sh-ch-ch” – from the cellist, coupled with bowing on the edge of the instrument, and faint rasping sounds, all combined with taped sounds of snow. Although the museum room was bright enough, in Ms. Shapiro’s hands it assumed an icy, desolate cast – palpably making one imagine “a skier moving across the snow.”

Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Alaska, May 25, 2006
CrossSound Delivers Wild Rivers of Sound, Mike Dunham, review of Pulling in the Light
“The rhythm became almost frantic, a mad dance punctuated by wild mandolin plucking from Dimitris Marinos of Greece. The trombone “sun” strode onto the stage and stood next to the cauyaq, which was no longer traveling but throbbing in one place. The excitement had me twitching in my seat”

Computer Music Journal, MIT Press, vol.29, Issue X, December, 2005
Metasaxophone Colossus CD Review by Peter Swendsen
“a tour de force showcase for composer, performer, and instrument-inventor, Matthew Burtner… with a Xenakis-inspired commitment to always forget one’s previous creations and start fresh. That spirit is undeniably evident on this fine disc, which should prove equally inspiring to performers, composers, tinkerers, and inventors, while also challenging and rewarding listeners from a variety of musical backgrounds.”

SEAMUS Journal, Society for Electroacoustic Music in the US, USA, Winter, 2005
Metasaxophone Colossus CD Review by Charles Nichols
“There is a monolithic quality to Matthew Burtner’s music, that is immediately visceral, yet an intricacy to his textures, that is discovered through deeper listening. Like a Rothko painting, with its uneven brush strokes and subtle shading, or maybe more to the point, an expansive landscape, with its undulating topography and shifting textures, his work is less about the musical and timbral details, than how their combination produces an overall effect.
In his first CD, Burtner showed his tendency toward sustained ambient soundscapes and noisy timbres, in a collection of works that, although unified under his resolute aesthetic, varied widely in content.
In his latest CD, “Metasaxophone Colossus”… Burtner again demonstrates his tenacious artistic integrity, through a series of pieces, that are neatly paired, and gratifyingly arranged, into a cohesive album.”

La Liberte, Fribourg, Switzerland, June 11, 2005
Windcantations, Matthew Burtner by MAP
“Saxophonist, sound artist and composer, Matthew Burtner takes part of his inspiration from the savage beauty of his home, Alaska. Mixing with the sensibility of a derviche he combines the mystical harmonics of Tibetan prayer bowels, electronic and acoustic undulations and a counterpoint of stones into the music he imagines as –windcantations-. In order to most faithfully translate his incredible visions , he also created an original instrument. The metasaxophone, is a tenor sax branched into a microprocessor and an independent computer, permitting him to filter and modulate the sounds during performance. Imbedded in the cliffs of the Sarine, the Grotte du Pertuis gave an in intimate atmosphere to the mystical evocation of a magician of sonorous spaces.”

New Music Connoisseur Magazine, May 2005
Mark Greenfest review of Animus/Anima at the ACA Festival in New York City
“Of all the programs presented, this one should have served as the “short ride on a fast machine” into the future. After all, it was made up of “young American composers.” And yet we found it puzzling that the works chosen were mainly, on the one hand, of the vintage academic variety and, on the other, a sort of revisit to artlessness. Only when we reached the final piece were there hints of the age ahead and its promises (if you’re optimistic) of completely new sound patterns and sonic ideas suggesting an entirely revised organization of tones unlike anything in our musical past. This was Matthew Burtner’s Animus/Anima, a computer-based work with voice by Haleh Abghari . …(Burtner) is already a full-blown composer with a sense of mission.

It appears that Ms. Abghari’s voice underwent some interactive processing. But her “physical vocal cavity is extended by coupling her voice to a bass drum which acts as a resonator in performance.” She used her ability to constantly reshape her voice convincingly and evocatively. Burtner was at a computer, which may indicate that the electronics are never the same from performance to performance. Whatever the case, the work we hear is subtle in contour and has virtually no climax, yet its misty, murky textures created an atmosphere of expectation. Its remote character conjures up the universe and the suggestion that some will see this work as the logical sequel to Gustav Holst’s The Planets.”

New Berriak Musikene Noticias, April 2005
Matthew Burtnerekin Topaketak. Kompositor egoiliarra, Donostia, San Sebastian.
read the complete interview
“Ipar Amerikan gaur egun sortutako musikan zeharko ibildide liluragarria, bere konpositore nagusietako baten eskutik, Virginiako Unibertsitateko irakaslea bereau eta teknologia berrietan aditua”
“Enthusiastic discussion about north american music by one of its most important composers, professor of the University of Virginia and a specialist in new technologies.”

Saxophone Journal, January/February, 2005
Review of Metasaxophone Colossus by Paul Wagner (this is an interesting and long review so please see the Saxophone Journal for the full text)
“The music on this CD is as mysterious and fascinating as the instrument itself…Matthew Burtner has out done himself with this CD and the Metasaxophone. It is a new instrument with new and exciting textures for the saxophone world. His innovative music will stimulate the listener’s imagination. We can almost equate this CD to the mind blowing experience in 2001 Space Odyssey when the hero enters the monolith and the audience was treated to a great light show. Except in this case we are given a sound show that is equally mind blowing. From the singing bowl to the nine acoustic tenor saxophones there is nothing here that is humdrum, routine or expected. This CD will open the window to your imagination. Don’t let this CD go by without hearing it at least a few dozen times.”

Neural Italian New Media Art, Hacktivism and emusic Magazine
“The Metasaxophone Project by Matthew Burtner amplifies the performer’s sensibilities through the use of pressure on the keys and movement, through the use of force sensing resistors and accelerometers. This equipped saxophone mutation becomes an electronic prosthesis allowing the performer to extensively amplify the normal functionalities of the instrument. This kind of mutation is destined to be a model for other instruments in the future.”

The Philler , Insound, November 2004
Review of Metasaxophone Colossus by Tom Schulte
“The title is a nod to the great saxophonist Sonny Rollins, but Burtner’s saxophone gives us whistles and drones more than the round tones and melodies Rollins delivered on that excellent jazz primer Saxophone Colossus. Burtner here treats the ear more to improvisation on the use and shape of the sax perhaps more so than improvisations on a melody. “S-Morphe-S” is landscape-wide palette of tone coloring done with “singing bowl soprano saxophone hybrid computer instrument.” The 9-minute piece is disembodied and floating.”

Scram Magazine, Issue No20, Hollywood, CA, November 2004
Review of Metasaxophone Colossus by Kim Cooper
“If Burtner’s saxes were flesh, they’d be bionic: wired for feedback loops and computerized programs aping Tibetan prayer bowls and imaginary strings. Burtner explores the outer edges of live performance potential, and makes some terrifically weird sounds along the way. ”

Metamorphic Journeyman Online Magazine, August 2004
Review of Metasaxophone Colossus
“For all the noise that makes up the core of this music, it is not only a thoroughly fascinating listening experience, but a curiously relaxing one – heck! when he’s not building sonic monstrosities that could tear down the walls on Skull Island with one fell swoop, there are plenty of long moments here when his sound might blend well with the friction-less glistening glide of VIDNA OBMANA. When it does make the rare journey into rhythmic, full-frontal music, it uses all the power it can muster, creating an all-out barrage of rhythmic drumming spangled with a more traditional sax approach. One long piece here manages to be immensely busy, yet not so complex or abrasive as not to be easy to relax while listening to. Another piece pushes the edges into the discordant extremities of Japanese Noise – a cavorting angry discord which almost rivals ZORN’s abrasive powerhouse approach. This is a complex album which ranges from one extreme to the other, yet always manages to be, well, extreme. ”

A & S Online, August, 2004, Charlottesville, VA
Burtner Unites Saxophone, Computer: Latest CD Release Introduces New Instrument, by Ruth Hart
“…mesmerizing, enchanting, and perhaps most importantly, completely original…”

Vital Weekly , July, 2004, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Review of Metasaxophone Colossus
“So my love of the saxophone is virtually non-existent, what would I think of Burtner’s CD? Pun intended, but it blew me away. The saxophone is indeed there to be recognized, but there is so much more happening, from the singing bowl like textures of the opening piece ‘S-Morphe-S’ to the walls of feedback of ‘Delta’ and the creepy dark textures of ‘S-Trance-S’.”

Augsburg Tribune, June, 2004, Augsburg, Germany
Review of (dis)Integrations at the 2004 Mozartfestival
“An in adventure in sound… in “(dis)Integrations”… the instruments create an icily glistening sound (Alaska!).”

Neural, Italian Magazine for Hacktivism, eMusic and Digital Art, 6/24/2004, Milan, Italy
“The Metasaxophone Project by Matthew Burtner … amplifies the performer’s sensibilities. … This equipped saxophone mutation becomes an electronic prosthesis allowing the performer to extensively amplify the normal functionalities of the instrument. This kind of mutation is destined to be a model for other instruments in the future. ”

OkaySamurai.com Multimedia, 6/2004, www.okaysamurai.com
Interview by Dave Werner (the beautiful design work for SIFR to the right is also by Dave Werner)
read the complete interview on line

Rush in the Darkness, Allgemeine Beitung newspaper, 11/03/2003, Mainz, Germany
Reviewing the duo: archaeopteryx concert
“Dissonant? Not even that. Some works of the new music float so far outside in the orbit that traditional categories are not sufficient to describe them any longer… The archaic composition “Mists” by Matthew Burtner illuminated a kind birth of the music from the rhythm. ”

Baltimore Sun, 11/2003, Baltimore Maryland
Preview of Matthew Burtner’s UMBC “Disembodied Forms” Metasaxophone Concert
“exploring worlds no saxophone has gone before”

Computer Music Journal, 3/28/2003, Cambridge, Massachusetts
in-depth Review of Winter Raven performance in Charlottesville by Peter Swendsen
“The premiere of Winter Raven was a tremendous success. It marked a very promising entry into the realm of large-scale pieces for Mr. Burtner, who is beginning work on another this summer. It also highlighted an encouraging movement toward more contemplative multi-disciplinary pieces in which each element’s presence is carefully justified and crafted. Indeed, Mr. Burtner displayed a unique ability to combine disciplines, media, and technology, all the while deferring to nature’s talent as a storyteller. ”

Inside UVa , 3/14/2003, Charlottesville, Virginia
Virtual Reality in Music: composer personifies life in sound, article by Jane Ford
“Matthew Burtner…is part composer, performer, inventor, conductor, director, researcher, anthropologist, environmentalist and explorer. As a modern-day explorer, Burtner’s landscape is music. Using computer technology, he creates “technosonic” music that taps the unlimited possibilities of sound. … All that is required to understand Burtner’s music is an open mind and a sense of adventure.”

Extra, the Daily Progress Entertainment Section, 3/28/2003, Charlottesville, Virginia
Music Behind the Mask: UVa Composer Matthew Burtner’s “Winter Raven” is a Multimedia Approach to Alaskan Legend, article by Jane Dunlap Norris
“There’s a new raven at the University of Virginia tonight. It’s not the inky, brooding visitor envisioned by a famous former occupant of UVa’s West Range, Edgar Allan Poe. Rather, Winter Raven is a playful figure from Inupiaq mythology who created the Earth by tossing a snowball. And forget about a midnight dreary — this legendary bird also brought sunlight to Earth’s people.”… “At a time when war and anxiety can dominate thoughts, a story of creation and wonder can offer a welcome antidote and a reminder of the ennobling comfort of art.”

Amazon.com, customer reviews of Portals of Distortion
read the thoughtful customer review by Nathaniel Weinham on-line

Ex Tempore, Slovakian Radio,5/2003, Bratislava, Slovakia
Radio interview with Matthew Burtner with Marek Jossaf: From Intermedia to Acoustics
listen to the interview on line

Assessorato Alla Cultura, Comune Di Venizia, Venice, Italy
Reviewing the Rizonance Festival: New Distances for Contemporary Music
read the complete review on line

EMF’s CDemusic
CD Review of Portals of Distortion
“Matthew Burtner has created a work of austere beauty in his new recording of six compositions for saxophones, computer generated sound, and stones. From the first moment, it is clear that Burtner’s music reflects a unique and powerful imagination. His saxophone writing is timbral in essence, collaborating with but never mimicking his computer generated sounds. His computer generated sounds (often granular synthesis), in turn, draw from a well parallel to that of his acoustic sounds in their organic feel and sense of otherworldy spaciousness. This may well be reflect Burtner’s grounding in the Alaskan geography and climate. ”
read the complete review on line

ARRAY, Journal of the ICMA, 2002, Havana, Cuba
Review of ICMC Havana Cuba concert by Tomoko Nakai
“(in Noisegate 67), interactions were clear and effectively conducted. Its sounds were fluid and dramatically structured. I felt that the saxophone was successfully integrated with the computer sound. ”
read the complete review on line

San Francisco Weekly, 3/13/2002, San Francisco, California
Feature article on Max Mathews mention of the Metasax
“(The Metasaxophone) might one day play some unimaginable music or allow new ways of interfacing with sound. ”
March 13, 2002
read the complete Max Mathews Interview on line

Cavalier Daily, 11/06/2001, Charlottesville, Virginia
Interview: Matthew Burtner, Professor Profile
read the complete interview on line

Fremover, 9/2001, Bergen, Norway
Review of MiN Ensemble Concert performance of Sikuigvik
“Sikuigvik is a formidable listening experience, and the silence after the last chord was magical.”

Nordlandsposten, 9/2001, Narvik, Norway
Review of Sikuigvik by Jorgen Mathisen
“Sikuigvik evokes ice crystals and wind that transform into a blinding light. You can sense bird song, running water, waves, and an overwhelming movement!”

Extra, the Daily Progress Entertainment Section, 11/4/2001, Charlottesville, Virginia
Hot Electronics Yield Cool Sounds: In Technosonics II Matthew Burtner and Other Composers Expand Musical Boundaries, article by Jane Dunlap Norris
The development of computer music is the story of the mouse that roared. Over the past two decades, advances in computer and sound technology have given composers valuable new ways to explore sounds and textures. Combining traditional acoustic instruments with electronics, sequencing programs, sampling, video and other tools can add new depth and vitality to time-honored ideas about structure and tone color.”

Kulturspeilet, 11/2001, Oslo, Norway
Review of Arctic Contrasts by Kjell Moe
“En tvers gjennom vellykket CD – og et flott konsept!”
Read the complete review online: www.pluto.no/Kulturspeilet/faste/CD/Min_Arctic.html”

Musik i Saerklass’ review by Trond Erikson Kontraster med spenn

Exclaim!, Canada’s National Music and Culture Magazine, 2/2000, Toronto, Ontario
Review of Portals of Distortion by David Lewis
Burtner’s dirge-drone processing experiments blur the distinctions between acoustic and electronic idioms in fascinating ways. The title track features a nonet of saxophones that utilise circular breathing to generate a wave of vibrato that builds to a gradual crescendo and oscillating diminuendo. The computer-generated tape performance, “Fern,” sounds like heavily filtered and processed choral music that builds in waves to peak in sudden industrial-strength crescendos. “Mists” is an evocative minimalist soundscape where the percussive sound of stones gets transformed into hissy waves of white noise. There’s an almost operatic scope in the sonic blend of amplified reeds and computer generated tape in “Split Voices” and “Incantation S4,” while “Glass Phase” uses glass percussion to confirm why the distinctions we make between acoustic and electronic sound fields are distortions that ultimately say more about a philosophy based upon binary opposites than they do about music or the nature of sound.

The Wire, March, 1999, London, England
Andy Hamilton review of Portals of Distortion
“Trying to take in the vastness of computer pieces like Fern, it’s hard to avoid thinking of the Alaskan wilderness, where Burtner spent his youth. This uses the digital granular synthesis developed by the composer at Xenakis’s UPIC studios in Paris. Burtner’s own philosophy of music aims to fuse technology and organic constituents, most elementally in Mists for computer noise controller and stone trio, where levels of filtered noise blur the polyrhythmic striking stones. The equally compelling saxophone pieces occasionally break out into something like a free jazz solo. Some of the most eerily effective electroacoustic music I’ve heard. ”

20th Century Music, California
Crystal Elizabeth’s informed and beautifully contextual Review of Portals of Distortion
“There is a horror and beauty in this music that is most impressive.”
link to complete review text

Computer Music Journal, MIT Press, Boston, MA
Warren Burt’s excellently written and detailed review of Portals of Distortion
“Burtner’s command of extended sounds of the saxophone is virtuostic.. His saxophone playing blew me away.”
link to complete review text

Porch Review/ProgRock.net
“Matthew Burtner’s _Portals of Distortion_ should not be listened to alone! This Alaskan composer has created a truly scary tableau of sound: parts sound like giant turbo-charged mosquito’s, others like fleets of helicopters whirling overhead! Ominous sounding throughout.”

Nordic Music, 2001, Sweden
Review of Sikuigvik on the Arctic Contrasts CD
“Sikuigvik exemplifies his continuing attraction to natural phenomena with which he grew up. The title signifies “the time of ice melting”, and the musical material is derived from natural processes. The resulting piece includes episodes with a kaleidoscopic surface.”

Outsight Review/Furious.com
Review of Portals of Distortion
“Chilling music created by an alchemy of modern technology and primitive musical sources such as stones. Inspired by the fearsome Alaskan wilderness, Burtner’s creations are another example of inventive American composition.”

Atmospheric Disturbances, Brisbane, Australia
Review of Portals of Distortion by Andrew Kettle
“This is wonderful, evocative music…evoking thoughts of some neo-ritualistic ceremony with mantric rhythmical structures. Lovely stuff, bring warm clothing however.”
read the review at http://listen.to/atmosdis

Earwaves
Dwight Loop review of Portals of Distortion
“Fascinating and brilliantly composed!”

Baltimore Sun , 9/21/2001, Sweden
Review of Hugh Livingston’s performance featuring Incantation 1 by Tim Smith
“The oldest piece, Matthew Burtner’s “Incantation 1″ from 1994 was the most rewarding. It is a duet for amplified cello and a tape that emits generally subtle synthesized sounds (think plugged-in cicadas). The cello part contains lots of non-melodic sounds, but occasionally takes off on surprisingly lyrical flights that Livingston relished; the music finally dissipates into a few wispy notes.The end result is an electronic tone poem of considerable aural richness, its non-specific narrative communicating strangely alluring thoughts and emotions.”

Exclaim! Canada’s Music and Culture Magazine, February 2000, Canada
Burtner’s dirge-drone processing experiments blur the distinctions between acoustic and electronic idioms in fascinating ways. The title track features a nonet of saxophones that utilise circular breathing to generate a wave of vibrato that builds to a gradual crescendo and oscillating diminuendo. The computer-generated tape performance, “Fern,” sounds like heavily filtered and processed choral music that builds in waves to peak in sudden industrial-strength crescendos. “Mists” is an evocative minimalist soundscape where the percussive sound of stones gets transformed into hissy waves of white noise. There’s an almost operatic scope in the sonic blend of amplified reeds and computer generated tape in “Split Voices” and “Incantation S4,” while “Glass Phase” uses glass percussion to confirm why the distinctions we make between acoustic and electronic sound fields are distortions that ultimately say more about a philosophy based upon binary opposites than they do about music or the nature of sound.

Portals of Distortion, Ink19, 8/1999, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Review of Portals of Distortion by Carl Glaser
“undeniably fascinating noise”
read the complete review on line

Corn-Fed Radicals: Neglected Pioneers of the Heartland, Gramophone Explorer, 7/1999, St. Paul, Minnesota
Review of Portals of Distortion by Philip Blackburn
“The ringing drones of the sax multiphonics suggest a miasmal world of ice, crags, and Northern Lights: “Deep slabs of ice, split and creaking, revealed glimpses of darkness and running water beneath…portals of distortion.” Rhythmic patterns, where they occur, owe less to Eskimo culture and more to a mechanical Polyrhythmicon, but the effect of stone on stone is scarily primal.
read the complete review on line

Artktisk Velklang , CulturSpeilet, 3/3/2000, Oslo, Norway
Review of Arctic Contrasts by Kjell Moe
“Sikuigvik – tiden da isen smelter – av Alaska-bosatte Matthew Burtner er et slags musikalsk bilde av hva som skjer når isen slipper taket. Magnar Åms Lyset i bringa di fortsetter i samme ydmyke stil, og glir nesten umerkelig over fra det første verket.”
read the complete review on line

Finding the Power, Johns Hopkins University Magazine, 4/2000, Baltimore, Maryland
Article on Computer Music and Geoff Wright by Dale Keiger
read the complete article on line

Thesis Just the Beginning for Composers, Tulane Collegian Magazine, 2000, New Orleans, Louisiana
Article on Matthew Burtner and Cliff Callendar by Thomas D Hawkins
read the complete article on line

Matthew Burtner, the Composer in Five Prose Movements, Johns Hopkins University Magazine, 6/1997, Baltimore, Maryland
Article on Matthew Burtner by Dale Keiger
read the complete article on line

Extending the Orchestra, Johns Hopkins University Magazine, 9/1996, Baltimore, Maryland
Article on Peabody Computer Music Department by Dale Keiger
on Taruyamaarutet
“…a dense thicket of rhythm that seems to pulsate, sometimes at regular intervals, sometimes at startling intervals that seem rhythmically dissonant as Burtner modulates the pattern.”
read the complete article on line