As you may well know, when I’m not recording as Dementio13, teaching as ‘Sir’, or moaning/ruminating as Paul The Miserable Bastard, I’m recording as Cwtch with my talented antipodean collaborator Marie Craven. We’ve been really quite busy over the past few months, what with new solo releases and (in Marie’s case) preparing/rehearsing live projects. But we always find time to make some new stuff as Cwtch.
Well here is our latest offering, released to no particular fanfare, with no big promotional ‘build-up’. What can I say about it? Well, we’ve made music which we want to hear. We’ve made the music despite a distance of thousands of miles between us. We’ve taken the best bits of what we do as solo musicians and thrown them into the blender. 5 songs which call to mind music past and present, mainstream and niche.
I hope you can share in this music….and, of course, if you like what you hear, share it with others….. we kinda rely on that.
“Hello again. This is just a reminder to tell you that my new album ‘Crash St’ is available from Thursday 1st March (ie. next Thursday) at http://dementio13.com . I’m really pleased with it and hope you can share in the music.
It’s a pay-what-you-want download, with no minimum price, so you could have it for free. All I ask is that, if you decide to download it and like it, please share links on Twitter and/or Facebook; your recommendations help it reach a wider audience.
Bloggers/DJs have been very complimentary in their reviews:
“…electronic, programmed machine music, bursting at the seams with humanity and soul, imprinted with the traces of its creator…….Dementio13 has mastered the art of creating human music, organic music that breathes, while capitalising on the power and impact of the machine.” (Jan 26, 2012) Oliver Arditi – oliverarditi.com
“…his forthcoming Crash St album reveals him to be still moving forward in invigorating and never predictable directions, his exploratory electronica more varied in texture and mood than pretty much any of his contemporaries.” (Jan 31 2012) Unwashed Territories – unwashedterritories.blogspot.com
Matt Stevens is a guitarist who records solo under his own name as well as playing with the band, The Fierce And The Dead and electronic duo, Yonks. His previous albums have fused his fluent and eclectic acoustic playing style with looping technology to create some startlingly original, emotive and heavily-layered tunes, occasionally using other instrumentation, but rarely.
This new release, ‘Relic’, sees him venturing into more varied sonic territory. He has always managed to push the envelope when it comes to what his acoustic guitar can actually do, sonically. But, as a solo instrument, that’s always going to be somewhat limited. Relic takes Stevens’ music to new levels, providing the listener with a much more varied palette of sound and rhythm. He’s augmented his guitar with drums, bass, keyboards, processed violin and some top-notch engineering/production by band-mate, Kevin Feazey.
From the opening track, ‘Nightbus‘, it’s obvious that Stevens wants to get away from his previous work in some ways. Whereas his previous release, ‘Ghost’, was bittersweet and decorative in parts; Nightbus eschews the sentiment for an evocative nighttime journey through the streets of London via a driving beat and a slightly menacing melody which brings to mind the music of ubiquitous 60′s soundtracker, John Barry.
The title track, ‘Relic‘, kicks in with biting and rich chordal strumming then veers into Radiohead territory, an influence which Stevens proudly wears on his sleeve without ever falling into pastiche or plagiarism. (The track builds into the most glorious of crescendos.). ‘20 GOTO 10‘ is full of atmosphere from it’s intro of chiming chords and bit-crushed drums. There’s a ‘song’ structure here, which is surprising, given Stevens’ adherence to instrumental releases; but one can imagine a vocal line working over this.
Then, my personal favourite, a moment of frivolity: ‘Up‘. As the title suggests, an upbeat track with playful phrasing, guitar-as-bontempi-organ sounds, low-key backing vocals (yes) and handclap polyrhythms.
There’s much to like about this album, with its mix of knowing reverence for past music, its story-telling, its sonic invention and, of course, Stevens’ impeccable playing. There’s craft here, yes, but there’s also art and sheer entertainment. Stevens threw his fans a curve-ball with this album, it was a gamble, but it’s paid off, revealing a musician with the spirit of a maverick who refuses to stand still creatively. Recommended.
Just a very quick reminder that, as of tomorrow (14th Aug), four of my older albums will no longer be available for download or streaming. The albums are ‘All Known Germs’, ‘Shatterbrain’, ‘Vulcan Foundry EP’ and ‘Rebop’. As ‘AKG’ also has three songs by Nita Disaster on there, I’ve ‘repackaged’ these songs as a mini-EP. They’re free to download.
With just a week to go until ‘The Hobbyist’ escapes into the wild, I thought it’d be an opportune moment to give you a tracklisting and some background info. It’ll all be a bit abstract at the moment (the musician, ‘Solarno’, very graciously described it as “Where beauty and science collide”), as only a handful of people have heard the album for promo/feedback purposes. But that’s never stopped me rambling on this blog before, so here I go again!
1. A Sound
You know that feeling when you see a film and enjoy the music more than the actual film itself? Well, despite it being a good film in general, I feel that way about ‘Escape From New York’. The music really hooked me when I first saw this movie, aged 17. John Carpenter’s soundtrack is a masterpiece of dark electronic beatiness. I’ve no idea where his influences came from, but it seems to suit the dystopian futuristic theme of the film perfectly; as well as echoing the rising popularity and awareness of electro, post-punk and early hiphop in New York around 1980.
Anyway, that’s where my track comes from…… LinnDrum beats, insistent rhythmic synths and dark atmospheres.
2. White Walls
I like to try to mix things up a bit with some tracks….. and the change of mood and tone of this track is an example. Starts out like a simple distorted slow-paced electro track….then gets a bit cinematic with string sweeps. Electroncholy is what I’d call it….you can call it whatever you want…..
An attempt to lift the mood with what was a surf-rock-inspired groove initially. But as the recording went on it became something different…… a bit of dronery, a bit of ambient, a bit of a krautrock groove, a bit of synth improvisation. A long build-up.
4. Head Pop#1
Short and very stripped-back synth track…..feel the mellow.
This is another of those tracks which change midway through….starts off with glitchy atmospheres, then builds and builds to create a cinematic wall of sound with polysynth and strings. If you like moody electronica with a filmic theme, you might like this. That’s what I was going for anyway.
6. Escort Fiesta
The sound of pimped-up mini-cars with what sounds like blown exhaust-pipes racing round the estate disturbs an elderly lady from her sleep at 3am.
7. The Hobbyist
A celebration, if you will, of the activity of recording music just for the hell of it. And the process of making and sharing. And then the connections which sharing that music creates. Melodic electronica, I guess.
Just happens to be track 8. I like the way Can, Neu! & Stereolab can create a track out of a simple drone-like repeated note or chord. It becomes like a chant, like sacred music almost. I had nothing as high-minded in my head when I recorded this.
9. Battery Life
I play the bass occasionally, but I’m not a ‘bassist’ at all. Too little dexterity and not enough practise. But I hear riffs and tunes in my head which I aspire to be able to play proficiently. I’m also a bit of a frustrated guitarist, so I occasionally stick the bass through filters, pitch-shifters, etc to give it the qualities of a ‘lead’ instrument. I had this tune and wanted to try to do it with the bass. Sounds kinda jazzy at times.
10. Head Pop#2
Another of those tracks which creates a mood from very little, other than timbre and tone in this case. I purposely put no beats on this….why would it need them?
This is a preview:
Anyway….it’s out on 15th Aug at Dementio13.com. I guess you could pop across there and give it a listen. If you don’t like it, that’s cool. If you do, download it.
I tend to blog about my own musical practise, or releases, I know. But from time to time, I try to change tack and share other artists’ music which I’ve discovered and enjoyed. This is one such post.
Twitter has been a great source of discovery; and this artist was one such find. Pinklogik (Jules) releases through the netlabel Section27 and her 2009 album “Learning To Trust Higher Frequencies” was my introduction to her music. From the melodic bleeps and pads of opening track ‘Gelid’, and the elastic beats of the following track ‘Palinopsia’ one is instantly engulfed in sounds which wash-over you like cleansing rain in a thunderstorm. There’s also some serious 8-bittery about the tunes: computer game-type bleeps and square waves find a counterpoint in warm analogue pads which swell and subdue the rhythmic elements. However, apart from these sonic variants, it’s the actual tunes which create the emotional effect. Repeating motifs overlap and build rather than become merely repetitive; and these motifs comprise melodic elements of some beauty. The overall result is above all, as mentioned, emotionally quite affecting. There are moments of almost rhythm-less ambience which then are interrupted by subtle drums (‘Theta Landscape’ for instance), never letting you ‘float away’ completely…this is music which is more than mere ambience, or drone, it requires you to be less passive when listening. The album is definitely worth a listen or download. If you’ve a penchant for warm, mellow electronica which demands real listening (somewhat in the style of the early Warp Records ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series) this is for you.