Artist: Matt Stevens
Label: Spencer Park Music
Track Listing: 1) Nightbus 2) Relic 3) Rusty 4) 20 GOTO 10 5) Rushden Fair 6) Up 7) Scapegoat 8) Sand (Part 2) 9) Frost 10) 30 END
Internet phenomenon Matt Stevens returns with his latest offering Relic only a year after his critically acclaimed Ghost album. His third instalment is an inspirational blend of progressive guitar passages accompanied by drums, bass, strings, glockenspiel and even the occasional Mellotron. Stevens’ solo climb through self-internet promotion via social media sites and an army of enthusiastic bloggers, podcasters and fans is respectable in itself with his music being well worth the effort to promote.
The cheery grandeur of tracks such as Nightbus and Rusty are a delight upon first listen and the musical textures and melodic hooks grow more impressive with each consecutive play. Known for his technical blend of acoustic guitar music, Stevens moulds intriguing song structures with catchy melody lines throughout this release. The swirling time signatures in Up and Scapegoat create an effortless dreamscape crafted by complex rhythmic passages that appear more beautiful that they do awkward.
Despite the many moments of splendour, Relic isn’t as consistent as its predecessor. Whereas 20 GOTO 10 and Rushden Fair fail to muster the same magic found elsewhere, there are welcomed surprises held within this record. Frost is a prime example; a dynamic explosion of distorted guitars and soft soundscapes that marry perfectly within a spiralling seven-eight landscape, providing a much needed boost of energy to the album. 30 END is a pleasant closing number with luscious Mellotron layering that creates yet another wonderful dreamy soundscape whilst Stevens’ lead guitar melodies serenade the listener into a state of bliss. The chaotic white noise at the end is perhaps a little too out of place yet it is just another testimony to Stevens’ open-minded approach to song writing.
So, if you’re in search of a fresh musical journey that will take you through the realms of prog, folk, ambient and post rock then you can’t go wrong with Relic which has proved itself to be one of this year’s most interesting releases.
3) 30 END
Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 19/10/2011