Slow Dances is a card game. It's also choreography, an artist book, an album. Slow Dances is an educational tool or corporate icebreaker intervention. It's weird yoga and experimental exercise. Slow Dances is fodder for your next awkward party or the heady performance for your next happening.
Made in a special collaboration between the interdisciplinary artists Matt Mehlan (Skeletons) and Sonnenzimmer (Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi), Slow Dances brings together the brilliant graphic virtuosity and cross-media thinking of the latter with the whimsical musical experimentation and photography of the former, into a wholly original and fun multimedia object.
Released as a 53-card deck (52 playing cards + USB card drive with music), Slow Dances is a multi-player dance game consisting of a series of prompt cards (designating POSE, SPIRIT, and PACE - with WILD CARDS for the extra unexpected) intended to guide each player through choreographed dances. What results is a a flexible score for dancing - paired with the Official Slow Dance Music - based on chance and dancers' own interpretations.
Pose cards indicate fixed poses for the player to enact, Spirit cards inspire the nature of the movement, Pace cards give a relative tempo for transitioning from one pose to the next. Each type of card is open to interpretation, open to modification, a jumping off point. Posecards are represented graphically, Spirit cards photographically, Pace cards textually. A dealing of cards might ask, for example: "Can you transition from this pose to the next in the spirit of melted ice cream... carefully?" Cards can be dealt in entirety, for a longer or faster slow dance - or as a single set of six cards to be moved through extremely slowly, or repeated until the music stopped. The game can be played alone, in groups all dancing differently, or attempting a set of cards in unison.
The Official Slow Dances Music takes advantage of the kinds of meta-rhythmic patterns only possible through electronic means: unusual electronic music making tools making unusual rhythmic beds for unusual movement possibility. Sounding like a futurisic organic-mechanical-musical hybrid creature out of the world of Dr. Seuss - a synthesizer based many-limbed all-in-one-band - a free-jazz drummer performing ambient music. These pieces of music obscure prescribed movement with looser implied pulses and organic structures, folding synthesizer textures, piano, organ, and saxophone into uneven and overlapping rhythmic patterns, building and expanding slowly.
Whether or not one seeks dance prompts in the literal sense, this collection of images, words, and music create an opportunity for contemplation, highly unusual and compelling, simply as artful object. Released digitally and as a card game for stochastic choreography, which comes with the music (high resolution 24bit/96khz WAVs) on USB card: a 53 card deck.
released February 26, 2021
Concept by Matt Mehlan & Sonnenzimmer.
All music written, performed, recorded, and mastered by Matt Mehlan at The Stuudio. Una Falta de Oxigeno en el Cerebro Music (ASCAP).
Graphics by Sonnenzimmer. Photos by Matt Mehlan.
Matt Mehlan is an artist, musician, and producer based in Chicago. An active figure in underground music in New York City for a decade before returning to his hometown; Matt leads the band Skeletons, the multimedia project Uumans, and runs the record label Shinkoyo.
Matt is a co-founder of the original Silent Barn space in Queens, NY, a member of the 19 piece supergroup Congotronics Vs Rockers (with Deerhoof, Konono No 1, Juana Molina, Kasai Allstars), and has produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered releases by Zeena Parkins, Janka Nabay, Anthony Braxton, Joe McPhee, Jobs, Amirtha Kidambi, IE, Nine 11 Thesaurus, The Fly Girlz, and The Wet Ink Ensemble, among others. He has performed around the world and released music on Shinkoyo, Ghostly International, Tomlab, Crammed Discs, The Social Registry, Sockets, and Altin Village and Mine.
Matt mixes & masters recordings at his STUUDIO.
Sonnenzimmer is the collaborative practice of Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi. Their work investigates and challenges the preconceived notions of the graphic arts. Their experimental studio was established in 2006 in Chicago. Together, they explore the physical and psycho-physical nature of graphics through publishing, exhibitions, design, music, and performance. While they move through an array of media, their focus is on triangulating a deeper understanding of graphic expression at large.