Since their 2010 self-titled debut, Golden Retriever have distinguished themselves from the crowd of instrumental post-rock and avant-garde experimentalists in no small part due to their unconventional instrumentation. Layering and processing Matt Carlson's modular synthesizer with Jonathan Sielaff's bass clarinet, they made a series of albums through 2014's Seer that expanded their sound without expanding their personnel. Three years later, Rotations augments the duo's palette further than ever before with the inclusion of a chamber ensemble on select tracks.
For nearly 10 years, the Portland, Ore. duo Golden Retriever has maintained a rigid approach to experimental composition. Jonathan Sielaff's bass clarinet and Matt Carlson's modular synth rig comprise just about the entirety of their sound, along with some basic effects and computer editing used to enhance each improvisational performance. By developing their music within the limitations of a self-imposed binary system, Golden Retriever has created their own language and made it readily translatable to an array of motifs.
Over the course of eight releases, Portland duo Golden Retriever has plumbed the depths of what two seemingly incongruous instruments can do. Matt Carlson's modular synthesizer and Jonathan Sielaff's amplified/effected bass clarinet are like loners at an observatory, gazing at constellations, not ….
Golden Retriever attempt to live in harmony on Rotations. It's all-too-desirable to assume that there's an order to how we live, but as they try to put into perspective on their fourth full-length recording, it's also a system that is meant to be complicated by design. The Portland instrumental duo of Jonathan Sielaff and Matt Carlson approach a concept that is impossible to completely parse in a 35-minute recording, and what piece of art could ever encompass such a large topic, but instead of focusing on the larger scale they simply contemplate upon it.
Rotations by Golden Retriever Rotations is the first Golden Retriever album to split configuration from methodology. Until now the duo's music has been all about what Matt Carlson (synthesizer, piano) and Jonathan Sielaff (bass clarinet, effects) could do together, first by improvising in real time and more recently in the recording studio. But the genesis of this project lies in a grant provided by Portland, Oregon's Regional Arts & Culture Council, which gave them the resources to stage some concerts in the fall of 2015 of new music that added pipe organ, woodwinds, brass, percussion and the Mousai Remix String Quartet to their core instrumentation.