John Matthias and Jay Auborn - Ghost Notes: Rusty Solenoid Orange Vinyl LP + Stanley Donwood Pencil Drawing Art Print + Augmented Reality Artwork Experience DINKED EDITION EXCLUSIVE 240


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John Matthias and Jay Auborn
Ghost Notes
Cognitive Shift


  • “Rusty Solenoid” orange vinyl *
  • Stanley Donwood pencil drawing art print *
  • Augmented Reality Artwork Experience (scan QR code)
  • 2 bonus tracks (download) * 
  • Hand numbered sleeve *
  • Limited edition of 250 *

*EXCLUSIVE to Dinked Edition


  • The album cover was created by artist, Stanley Donwood, using a copper verdigris technique in which the original drawing is printed on a copper sheet and undergoes a chemical decay process.

  • The original pencil drawing by Stanley Donwood is what is used for the print in our Dinked Edition. 6” x 6” with augmented reality experience information on the back.

  • On the inside cover of the vinyl, the artist Mike Phillips has developed 100 new images using a Generative Algorithmic Network (GAN) - an algorithmic AI technique for which Mike Phillips used the AI to compare the front cover copper verdigris image with the pencil drawing and produce the new set of twisted forms. You can see these 100 new forms concatenated together in an Augmented Reality animation developed by Chris Price of Zubr with sound designed by John Matthias and Jay Auborn by pointing to a QR code on the reverse of the Donwood print in the Dinked vinyl edition.   

1. Dive Into This
2. Long Time Dead
3. Auto Psalm Engine
4. Lovelaced
5. No Parable
6. A Silver Solenoid
7. Christmas at The Twisted Wheel
8. Vodka & Coke

On Ghost Notes, John Matthias and Jay Auborn’s
latest album, the British duo take their experiments
with sound to new levels, catapulting their work
into unexplored territories of human-robotic
collaboration. Matthias and Auborn first partnered
for the 2017 release Race to Zero. The album, and
the soundtrack to the feature film, IN THE CLOUD
(starring Gabriel Byrne) and the soundtrack to
BROADMEAD (Stanley Donwood & Mat Consume)
which they have collaborated on since, makes
evident the musicians’ mutual desire to push hard
at the boundaries between physical and digital
sound worlds – an exploration they had been
pursuing individually for years. Combining his
expertise and interests in science and sound, the
composer, violinist and physicist, John Matthias is
known for blending tradition and futurism in his
music. His work has taken the form of pioneering
research on Neuronal Music Technology as well as

4 acclaimed studio albums and numerous collabo-
rations with renowned artists including Radiohead,

Matthew Herbert and Coldcut. Jay Auborn’s
assiduous work in musical engineering, which takes
sound as yet another malleable material to be
played with, has made him into a sought-after
musician, record producer and sound artist working
on everything from large-scale sound installations
to film music. Between their shared passions and
complementary skills, the musicians found a unique
and undeniably bold synergy. Ghost Notes
continues to be driven by this force; for the album,
John Matthias and Jay Auborn gave their
computer limbs and unleashed its agency,
improvising alongside this new band member to
create mini electronic symphonies.
The ghost in Ghost Notes refers to a robot
drummer, although its appearance is less corporeal
than it might sound. In fact, it employs quite crude
technology not too different from your set of
automatic car keys. John Matthias and Jay
Auborn used solenoid magnets to convert audio
signals sent from their computer into voltages that
could fire hammers that would in turn hit a real
drum kit. “It looks like a science experiment, all
covered in wires”. Despite the rudimentary looks,
ghost-drummer does an impressive job; allowing
for digital collaboration with real instruments. In other words, instead of working with samples
played off speakers, these can now be reproduced
live, in a physical space.
As if straight out of a scene in Mary Shelley’s novel
Frankenstein, the first time John Matthias and Jay
Auborn brought their creation to life was a
haunting experience. They fed it complex rhythmic
information from a 1950s jazz recording of drum
solos and lo and behold the drum kit came alive in
the room with shocking resemblance to the original
performance. That chilling encounter which, in the
musician's eyes took technological appropriation to
new, terrifying levels, pivoted the musician’s ideas:
“We realised that we could use the method to
extract the low level often overlooked rhythmic
patterns within our own recorded or live material.
[...] We now focused on creating Ghostly echoes of
our own performances rather than invoking the
dead to be in our band”.
This process became the bare bones behind the
composition of Ghost Notes, rather than playing

acoustic instruments and later digitally manipu-
lating these recordings, these two stages were

brought together in one moment and place in
time, “The digital elements of our music were in
the room with us during the improvisational stage,
and in binding them together, we could create a
live album of sorts”.
Just like a live session is filled with and shaped by
factors such as the energy emanating from the
audience on any given night, or the acoustics of a
particular venue, Ghost Notes also embraces and
plays on the undetermined. As the computer
struggled under the demands of interpreting John
Matthias and Jay Auborn’s improvisations live, it
would sometimes act unexpectedly, hitting the
drums as if possessed by its own agency. “Errors in
the digital processing became fruitful diversions,
like John Cage’s Ghost in the machine”. The result
of this cyborgian jam session? A high-energy album
featuring a wide range of sounds and tempos. In
this regard, Ghost Notes stands in stark contrast to
the more minimal, ambient output of other artists

experimenting with similar frameworks of digital-
acoustic interplay. Perhaps it’s because of this

immersive quality, where textures, layers and

emotional dramaturgy all combine to create
unheard of worlds and make it impossible for
partial listening, that Ghost Notes’ first track is
named Dive Into This. Matthias' soaring violin lures
listeners into shifting landscapes of syncopated
drum beats and cycling synths. Classical structures
are deconstructed into electronica and back, all the
while Auborn is distorting acoustic sounds beyond

recognition. “It’s about screwing with the materi-
ality of it,” he says.

Although Ghost Notes is rich, layered and
textured, it’s not one inch impenetrable. What
could otherwise feel dense gets pierced by
enthralling melodies such as virtuosic violin
segments that pull on 19th-century romanticism, or
soulful piano grooves à la Alice Coltrane or Marvin
Gaye. At other times, the music tells imaginative
stories, “In Christmas at the Twisted Wheel, we
created a mini violin concerto which begins in an
imagined Christmas advert for John Lewis through
a dissonant landscape to The Twisted Wheel
Northern Soul Club in Manchester”.
Ghost Notes is a testament to the enormous
artistic freedom John Matthias and Jay Auborn
have achieved together. Within the conceptual
framework they set for themselves, they trusted
sound to be their one and only guide, a model
which led the duo on a vast exploration between
extremes and nuances, like the collision and
subtleties laid out on Vodka and Coke. In the
track, emotional violin comes together with raw,
brutal textures – “caveman beats” as the duo calls
them. White-washed static noises are heard as the
track progresses, the result of the computer’s own
interpretations of what it was being fed, creating a
surprising unison between the two contrasting
worlds. “The sounds were a kind of digital shadow
of ourselves. An in-betweenness of acoustic and
digital”. It’s in that in- betweenness which doesn't
sit comfortably in either classical nor electronica
that Ghost Notes succeeds. It’s within that grey
space between humans programming robots, and
robots breaking down and erring like humans that
the album achieves its finest, most original
aesthetic expression, opening a new path for
human-robotic collaboration in music-making.


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