Syd Matters - A Whisper and A Sigh
The opening seconds of this album set the scene for the whole thing. A pulsing tone, like a signal from space that swells and pulsates before melting away into a multi-tonal sweet melody that with a sort of futurist feel, punctuated by blips and swells of quiet white noise. It's quite lovely and then it mutates again into a lightly strummed introduction. It's reminiscent of Leftfield at their most mellow, or early Stereolab. It's a fantastic opening and creates a mood that the album does well to maintain. 'Bittersweet' is a good word to bear in mind here. Put this on and you will be saturated by the sort of bittersweet melancholy that's probably very good for the soul and very agreeable on everything else. It will be about four songs in before you get the urge to open the wine.
Listening to the album is like drifting slowly down a river of treacle. The songs feel sort of formed rather than performed, if you see what we mean, as though they've been plucked from the ether. Nothing is rushed, rather everything seems to sort of flow and melt. Like Dead Machine's running time mostly consisting off delicate blips and beeps that form the bare bones of a melody whilst strange noises rise and swell just underneath. The effect is hypnotic and its these little blips and squeals of noise that make the album, really. They're always there, never obtrusive, always sitting quietly in the background existing as a juxtaposition to the minor chords Matters strums. Occasionally, they'll burst to the forefront but never for very long and provide enough surprises to bring you back for a second listen.
Musically, Syd Matters lies somewhere between Wilco and Aqualung; sort of downbeat electronic acoustic sound . Often, there'll be complete key changes in the middle of a song that suddenly change the tempo, taking it soaring off somewhere completely different. It's constantly evolving and this adds to the fluid feel of the album. Be sure, Syd Matters is a songwriter of vast depth and capable of conveying much emotion with his low, satin voice. It's a reassuring sort of a voice and one that's quite addictive when you get a taste for it.
Highlights include Black and White Eyes which is has a wonderful, melancholy chorus. It’s as dreamy as a hot, thick cup of cocoa just before bedtime. It starts of simply enough, but builds as the song progresses as bass lines and sliding keyboards gradually slip into the mix. It's haunting chord structure repeats and mutates slightly - oh, it's just three and a half minutes of bliss, OK? End And Start Again has a lovely rolling bass line, that occasionally opens out into a sort of panorama of noisy silence, before rolling back into the bass line. It, too, is lovely.
This is a really interesting album. It constantly surprises and contains enough depth to make it a bona fide 'grower', it'll repay the investment you put into it. Perfect for those late nights and best listened to through a haze of cigarette smoke and with a nice red wine.