Golden Retriever is the duo of Matt Carlson (modular synthesizer) and Jonathan Sielaff (bass clarinet), two musicians who blur the line between sounds created electronically and acoustically. The pair formed Golden Retriever in 2008 and began to develop a language informed by the practices of free improvisation as well as the tradition of American experimental electronic composers like Alvin Curran & David Behrman. Golden Retriever creates music that is creatively challenging and structurally complex while remaining inviting and emotionally dynamic rather than adopting a confrontational stance toward the listener.
Seer, their second release for Thrill Jockey, was recorded and assembled over the course of two years at the artists’ studio “Worksound” in Portland, OR. The relaxed timetable gave Carlson and Sielaff an opportunity to write based around new instruments and techniques and to spend considerable time meticulously editing the work. This extends the process employed on their Thrill Jockey debut Occupied with the Unspoken, composing and arranging using editing as a compositional tool.
The opening track “Petrichor” shows Carlson using an 11-limit just intonation system and can, if listened to at a significant volume, create otoacoustic emissions: the generation of new resonance within the inner-ear as a rectification of two perfectly toned and opposing frequencies. The use of this phenomenon as musical material was pioneered by Maryanne Amacher in her sound installations of the 70s and 80s. The song “Sharp Stones” finds Sielaff weaving complex melodic phrases over Carlson’s bed of synth-processed piano sounds, toying with the gestures of modal free jazz. Their ability to move between abstract sound exploration and traditionally engaging musical structures is demonstrated perfectly on “Flight Song,” which features a mantra-like bass clarinet melody beholden to shimmering synthesizer patterns. Golden Retriever’s compositions are inviting and relentlessly listenable, embracing both emotional depth and wild abandon without betraying the hidden framework of complexity within.
"On their fifth release, this Portland, Oregon drone duo finally find the perfect balance between Matt Carlson's twinkling, modular synths and the bluesy cry of Jonathan Sielaff's bass clarinet....the equally comforting and unsettling Seer plays like the album equivalent of Twin Peak's swaying stoplight."-Rolling Stone
“’Flight Song,’ from Golden Retriever’s forthcoming LP Seer, demonstrates the duo at their most focused. Carlson’s skittering synth parts function as a gridlike structure for Sielaff’s amorphous clarinet peals to weave in and out of.” - Pitchfork
"On Seer...Golden Retriever branches out from its established bridge between radical acousmatic explorers like Maryanne Amacher and the more user-friendly electronics of Laurie Spiegel to situate itself within a broader musical context that fows like jazz and wields rock muscle." - Magnet
"It's a gloriously untethered cut, aptly named for the aerial quality of Sielaff's clarinet lines, stretching lazily over Carlson's equally open-feeling matrix of synths." - The Quietus
“Seer is a five-track exploration of the weird sonic world Carlson and Sielaff inhabit, which at varying times can be challenging, unsettling, and gorgeous, embracing both improvisation and American experimental electronic music traditions.” - Portland Mercury
“Of all the cassette acts to make the jump to vinyl, Golden Retriever has got to be one of our favorite. This duo makes electronic music unlike anything else out there, and there is no better label to release it to a wider audience than Thrill Jockey. The pressing is clean, clear and loud and should easily secure a spot on your shelf (hopefully next to their other releases).” - OMG Vinyl