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The Vex Collection

by The Vex Collection

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a 6-panel Digipak, with an 8-page booklet detailing the instruments we used and the story behind this music. Original artwork by C.M. Kosemen, layout and design by Antonia Sepúlveda.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Vex Collection via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 200 

      $17 USD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $10 USD  or more


Introduction 01:09
Ira Minervae 05:59
Prelude 03:40
Hex Cleanse 07:30
Dirge 05:13
Fugue 07:38


"Contemporary music that is inspired by a multitude of traditions without being limited by any. This album is both fearless and moving" - Kinan Azmeh

This music is the result of an utterly absurd idea, followed through to completion. In early 2018, Vicente and I met up to discuss a plan to make a new band featuring Korean double reeds and Scottish highland bagpipes. Pretty soon the plan had expanded to include 3-D printed microtonal wind instruments, dancers, video projection, modular synthesis, me learning to play a Croatian bagpipe, and a four-part fugue for bagpipes and taepyeongso. Once we felt we had devised something sufficiently ambitious, eye-catching, and impossible to pull off, we submitted a proposal to The Shed’s inaugural Open Call commissioning program, optimistic but more or less accepting that this project was just too weird to get picked up.

But at least one person reviewing our submission felt that it was just weird enough, setting in motion a chain of events that led to this music being written, performed, and eventually recorded. After coming to terms with the fact that we were going to have to somehow make this happen, we spent a very stressful 10 months learning how to build wind instruments from scratch (a lot of sawing and drilling PVC pipes, a lot of failed 3-D prints, and some inhalation of toxic carbon fiber dust), figuring out how to orchestrate instruments that had probably never been played together in human history, and in general making successive leaps of faith in the hopes that the music we were imagining could exist in the real world. We were lucky to have incredible collaborators in the form of Gamin Kang and Matthew Welch (who appear on this recording) as well as Jua Yoon and David Watson for the premiere performance. Their hard work and patience with the necessarily janky nature of what we were trying to do were instrumental in the realization of this music.

Though this process was chaotic and largely conditioned by the needs of the concert, what emerged was ultimately a coherent set of compositions linked by several thematic and aesthetic threads. This began with a shared fascination with the double reed: a musical technology that has appeared throughout history in virtually every culture, manifesting in myriad forms while retaining a common sonic soul. Whether used to rally armies in Scotland, mourn the dead in China, celebrate weddings in Turkey, or conduct shamanic rituals in Korea, the brilliance, harshness, and profound emotion of the double reed’s cry has captivated and inspired listeners for millennia. This diverse-yet-unified quality makes the double reed perfect for a kind of aesthetic syncretism in which elements from disparate musical traditions are identified with each other and recombined into new forms. Things like the natural compatibility of the Croatian meh and Korean piri, the sheer force of bagpipes and taepyeongso imitating a pipe organ, and the ease with which supposedly limited “folk instruments” can navigate microtonal harmony were a joy to discover. The amount of new sounds yet to be mined from the depths of this ancient technology is limitless and the music here is less than the tip of the iceberg.

The music on this record imagines a past in which an unbroken continuum of cultural exchange from Western Europe to East Asia could have produced these unlikely sounds as part of an organic folk tradition. The use of experimental instruments (Micro-Aulos and Neo-Carnyx) extends this history into a speculative future: one in which the primacy of the double reed never waned, and the most striking sounds of modernity - distorted guitars, aggressive synthesizers, detailed microtonality - are produced via breath and vibrating blades rather than circuitry.

The properties of these instruments plus some stories from their haphazard development are detailed in the following pages. The act of designing and building new instruments was for me the most memorable and significant part of this project. At many points I was made to feel less like a trained musician and more like some pre-modern oracle, desperately attempting to interpret the will of the gods amid piles of PVC pipe and homemade reeds. It wasn’t always a pleasant feeling, but it’s one I hope to recall in future creative endeavors. In addition to the thrill of somehow achieving the impossible, there’s something liberatory about realizing the sounds in your head from the ground up, literally building the parameters necessary for a creative impulse to take shape (though you should probably build the instruments before you write the music, unlike us). This ethos is the true core of our project and one that we hope to continue to nurture and expand in the future.

-Mat Muntz (August, 2021)


released February 18, 2022

gamin - Piri and Taepyeongso
Matthew Welch - Great Highland Bagpipe
Mat Muntz - Contrabass, Creski Meh, Micro-Aulos, Neo-Carnyx, Bombard, Dozaleh
Vicente Hansen Atria - Drum Set, Jing, Kkwaenggari, Live Electronics, Neo-Carnyx

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 composed by Mat Muntz (Snuff Yogi Sounds, ASCAP) Tracks 4, 5, 7 composed by Vicente Hansen Atria (Vicente Hansen Music, ASCAP)

Produced by Vicente Hansen Atria and Mat Muntz
Recorded by Ben Rice at Degraw Sound on October 28th and 29th, 2020
Mixed by Vicente Hansen Atria
Mastered by Matt Mehlan at the Stuudio

Original artwork by C.M. Kosemen
Design by Antonia Sepúlveda
This recording is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund
of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts
Council (BAC).


all rights reserved



The Vex Collection New York, New York

Imagining alternate pasts, presents, and futures, The Vex Collection uses unheard-of combinations of traditional instruments, newly devised musical contraptions, and a philosophy of mad-scientific experimentation in their exploration of uncharted sonic space.

Led by Vicente Atria (drums, gongs, electronics) and Mat Muntz (bass, Croatian bagpipe, homemade woodwinds).
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