Matrices of Vision – forthcoming on Shelter Press
The performances and record are supported by Initiative Musik.
Matrices of Vision is the debut release of experimental music artist Abigail Toll (UK/DE) – forthcoming on Shelter Press.
It's a sonic augmentation of a data set inspired by Tiara Roxanne's revelatory inquiries into AI/data bias.
Toll took inspiration from a passage written by Roxanne, in which they cite author Alexander Galloway's notion of “matrices of vision” (The Interface Effect, 2012); a term he uses to describe the atomisation of points of view “flanking and flooding the world viewed” (Galloway 68-69).
The compositional study was a means to understand more about their collaboration as well as the social and political mechanisms that surround us. Specifically how data collection and its forms of binary categorisation impact the way we
move through the world.
intense study of deep listening and sonification that unfolds as cacophony, meditation and upheaval.
The piece expands her interest in psychoacoustics and tuning. into a textural, durational and emotional response to this data. Flutes, strings, vocals and electronics culminate in an
Toll composed Matrices of Vision during her Masters in Electroacoustic Composition at the KMH–Royal College of Music in Stockholm between 2019 and 2021; which through its alumni is now considered a leading institution for Just Intonation, electroacoustic and drone music in Europe.
In place of dominant western twelve-tone tuning, Toll applies Just Intonation (the harmonic series) in order to access a greater pitch continuum. She uses this to highlight data extraction, creative restrictions and bias that she transcribes through the Matrices of Vision graphic score. The score preserves the original data set which traces student demographics in Sweden's education system across seven decades.
Toll maps the data with frequencies (or partials) that together make up the harmonic series, a technique which she learned through her teacher, flautist Rebecca Lane, a renowned figure in the contemporary JI scene.
Playing alongside Toll (c-flute/electronics) on the record, is Lucy Railton (cello), Evelyn Saylor (vocals) and Rebecca Lane (bass flute), who in ensemble, transform the data into music. As the instruments move up and down the series, the lines of data are represented through sound where the higher the frequency, the higher the number of students who accessed higher education. Rather than a one to one representation of the data, the composition breaks away from the rigid notion of sonification to become what Toll views as an augmentation of the dataset – since time values are protracted and lengthened, and the harmonic partials are multiplied through sound and space.
What is reflected in the musical gestures – through glissing, beating and cacophony – is a refusal to comply to these so-called rational systems. What results, is a sonic narrative that unsettles accepted hierarchies by moving beyond their limitations, in what Roxanne describes as “a kind of flooding of listening and experiencing, from the body and the spaces that surround the body.”
The mesmerising and fragile sound world by Toll is a style that she has now grounded since her first EP Old World | New Ruins in 2019.