The Provocateur

He obfuscates the present. He fabricates the past. His record label has released 180 albums in the past three years. Agitating for a new aural order with Matthew St-Germain.

Sometimes it just unravels a bit. And perhaps that is what makes this medium the most apt testament to the power of Freedom From's releases: It gives form to music's ephemeral delights. It embodies the way the sound of damage can make the most affecting and heart-wrenching music. And just when you're starting to understand the method to the madness, the tape tricks you. With the wear of extended play, the music gets quiet for no apparent reason and then returns to its natural volume just as inexplicably. This is precisely its charm.

Like the trajectory of a worn-out cassette, Matthew St-Germain himself is a bit of a mystery. Rewind the tape in your head. St-Germain's actions were recorded as memories. They're recent recollections. But as you play them back again, notice: They're already beginning to change. Not a damaged boy, not a prankster. Maybe he's not knowable at all.


Michael Dvorak

On Sunday, November 18, Matthew St-Germain forwards a message to City Pages. It's originally from someone named Robert Price--apparently, a designer who contributes album covers to Freedom From--and it is addressed to Thurston Moore.

Price tells Moore that they will be using a Sonic Youth track for an upcoming Freedom From compilation and asks him if he wants the label to print publishing information in the liner notes.

"Yes," Moore responds. "Print this."

At the end of the note, Moore has appended his collected e-mail messages--there are ten in all--denying any knowledge of Matthew St-Germain.

The universe doesn't exist, but it is still here...

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