For The Little Death: Vol. 1:
The New York Times – Steve Smith
“Mr. Marks … constructed his score as a mostly continuous sequence of cheerily seductive original pop tunes with simple, repetitive lyrics, interspersed with a handful of familiar hymns and gospel songs.
Saturated with sampled timbres and driven by sputtering hip-hop break beats, Mr. Marks’s music is bright and sentimental, at times even cloying in a manner meant to evoke anodyne commercial Christian pop. But Mr. Marks’s crafty juxtapositions, clashes and transformations add to the opera’s overall sense of ambiguity; in moments when he underscores sexual urges scarcely hidden within his squeaky-clean borrowed sources, substantial heat results.
the work’s mix of catchy tunes and unsettling themes nonetheless makes for a consistently affecting evening of theater.”
The Huffington Post, featuring my song as one of the “Top 10 Alternative Art Songs of 2001-2010″ – Daniel J. Kushner
A post-Christian nihilist pop opera sounds like a strange, nearly impossible amalgam to synthesize. But for Brooklyn-based composer Matt Marks and his chief co-conspirator, vocalist Mellissa Hughes (both raised in the Southern Baptist tradition), The Little Death: Vol. 1–which Marks began writing in the summer of 2007–is the result of relentless “tinkering” and indiscriminately drawing from a reservoir of dizzying musical touchstones and the moods and emotions they engender.
And when the influences include the classic hymn “Morning Has Broken,” gospel mainstays “He Touched Me” and “When God Dips His Love in My Heart,” Japanese pop (or J-pop), Christian counterculture musicals of the late 1960s and early 1970s, techno, the Moral Majority-tinged contemporary Christian vocal stylings of Sandi Patty and 1990s Point of Grace, and hip-hop–all filtered through Marks’s preoccupations with the horror genre, the sexualization of Christian iconography, and what he refers to as fundamentalist, roots-based religion and music culture taken to this twisted pop culture extreme–well, that’s a recipe for cataclysmic drama.
Time Out New York – Helen Shaw
“In the extraordinarily witty new miniopera The Little Death: Vol. 1, the electropop maestro Matt Marks and his fellow performer Mellissa Hughes play Boy and Girl, two kids in love facing the nookie-versus-chastity debate.
unabashedly boppy, baroquely multireferential, then suddenly sentimental”
The Awl – Seth Colter Walls
“The Little Death, Vol. 1 is catchy, conceptual and rambunctious–so call it whatever you like. Either way, the baseline “story” here (such as it is), involves two characters named Boy and Girl, who are having trouble balancing the carnal with the godly. Over the course of 11 songs, they push and pull against each other, their respective desires and philosophies, and–as singers–the genre divides between Christian Pop, old-school hymns and frantic electro.”
For my arrangement of The Beatles’ Revolution 9 for Alarm Will Sound:
New York Magazine – Justin Davidson, (from a feature on the arrangement and Alarm Will Sound’s 1969 show)
“A French-horn player whimpered like a newborn into one microphone, as a violinist murmured through a trumpet mute into another mike so that her voice sounded watery and indistinct. A percussionist smashed and stirred a bagful of broken glass with a hammer, and a clarinetist blurted the tune to “There’s a place in France / Where the naked ladies dance.” A sober young man, unaccustomed to performing, wielded one of those old-fashioned squeezable car horns and in an impassive baritone kept repeating: “Number nine … number nine.” Yes, you got it: Welcome to the live, all-acoustic version of Lennon and McCartney’s foray into musique concrète, “Revolution 9,” as performed with irresistible panache by the twenty-member ensemble Alarm Will Sound.
Nonchalantly virtuosic and unburdened by conventional wisdom, the players in Alarm Will Sound invent challenges that some might regard as mystically pointless—Matthew Marks’s obsessively detailed transcription of “Revolution 9,” for instance. The payoff lies in performances that make complexity sound crystalline, that dismantle a piece’s purity but leave its energy intact.”
New York Times – Steve Smith
“Alarm Will Sound kicked off the proceedings at 6 p.m. with a movement from John Adams’s “Son of Chamber Symphony,” and much later offered a staggeringly creative arrangement of the Beatles’ abstract sound collage “Revolution 9,” arranged by Matt Marks.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Andrew Druckenbrod
“the group ended the night with an amazing transcription of the famous experimental track from “the White Album.” Yes, they performed tape loops and all, in a totally live performance conducted expertly by Alan Pierson. It was stunning, and I think Alarm Will Sound has a bona fide hit on its hands…”
For The Adventures of Albert Fish:
Sequenza21.com – Galen H. Brown
“brilliantly simultaneously creepy and funny”
French Horn Press:
New York Times – Paul Griffiths
“In the new horn concerto there were lots of wonderful moments, especially those involving murky glistening harmonies from the four natural horns in the orchestra plus the soloist (Matt Marks) and passages where other instruments”
Financial Times – Martin Bernheimer
“Matt Marks played brilliantly”
Andante.com – Ben Finane
“chameleonic soloist Matt Marks at times sounded like a Swiss alpenhornist and at other times channeled the blue cool of Miles Davis.”