Review Summary: Ridiculous amounts of minimalism make half of Franz Joseph nearly unlistenable.
Removing process and composition from music often comes by a few disastrous hindrances, two of the most notable being the possibility that "free music" can be free to assume the shape of something completely incoherent and sloppy. Or perhaps the improvisations take hold of minimalism to such extremes that the result is a tedious chore. To an extent, Jordan Mathos's Franz Joseph
fits into the latter category - turning primitive electroacoustic improvisation into an inconsistent release that oftentimes fails to make its minimalism interesting. The first track is comprised of bare-bones sine waves and a nasty violin, with indeterminate gaps of silence between the underdeveloped and extremely boring sounds. It's not as though the track is underdeveloped because Mathos's execution of his ideas is faulty; it's hard to find someone so comfortable with small speckles of musicality. The thing is that Mathos's ideas themselves are faulty. The sounds themselves aren't particularly impacting, and the track suffers tremendously because the ideas that are showcased have very little substance.
The second track, however, picks things up quite a bit with much more substantial improvisations. There's a much richer array of textures, the silences are more effective and the electroacoustic effects work with Mathos's obsession with droning sines. Trumpet noises are transformed into resplendent drones that pop up at random intervals, adding a much-needed variety to the album, since half of it is little more than a monochromatic blur. His newfound sense of melody and the ability to change mundane instrumentals into a more grandiose, introspective whole really turns the album around. But the first track is still very detrimental to the entire album.