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Matt Stevens - Lucid CD (album) cover

LUCID

Matt Stevens

 

Crossover Prog

3.72 | 6 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Second Life Syndrome
4 stars What do you get when an excellent guitarist, in this case Matt Stevens of The Fierce & the Dead, makes a solo album? You guessed it! You get a guitar-based album. However, this isn't always a good thing. Many times, these solo albums are used as moments to show off or play the most ridiculous, finger-blistering guitar licks till there's blood on the floor. This isn't so with Matt Stevens' new solo album "Lucid". As I said, Matt Stevens is the guitarist of the rather eccentric instrumental band The Fierce & the Dead. He follows in the format of that band only in that "Lucid" is an instrumental affair. Indeed, Stevens seems to be an advocate of sorts for instrumental bands, and I think he's correct about the lack of focus on bands that choose to eliminate vocals. Anyways, what "Lucid" is lacking in vocals, it clearly makes up for with both sheer variety and unflinching focus.

"Lucid" is indeed an album that is on target, but somehow varied, too. From delicate guitar weaves to grinding experimental affairs to massive post-rock epics, this album really has it all. Yes, I think Stevens uses his solo career as a sort of little black book for his random thoughts. Much of the album is experimental in some way, and there are many different styles and kinds of guitars utilized. From quiet acoustic moments to atmospheric eccentricities, and from organic and warm melodies to harsh ambiances and incredible finger work, Stevens explores a vast range of methods to battle the fretboard.

He's not in this alone, however. Stevens is joined by quite a cast of guests, including Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and Stuart Marshall (The Fierce & the Dead) on the drums, Jem Godfrey (Frost*) on keys, and many others from around the progressive world. They play a vital part in bringing this album to life, especially the guest bassists that add a deep, throbbing texture behind Stevens' guitars. What we get, then, are highlights that add new dimensions to the guitarist fantasies, creating a more vivid whole. Make no mistake, though, as "Lucid" is certainly about guitars more than anything else.

Experimentation is always good in the musical world. Sometimes, though, bands forget to write actual songs that will interest listeners. I don't believe Stevens has neglected this important factor on this album. The individual tracks are generally very interesting, though there are definite standouts. My very favorite is "The Bridge", a twelve minute epic that soars up and down using post-rock devices and plenty of atmosphere. There are other favorites, though, such as the slightly off opener "Oxymoron", the delicately ethereal and chilling "Coulrophobia" (fear of clowns), and the slightly folksy "The Other Side". Most of the tracks are actually only a few minutes long, believe it or not, but the album doesn't suffer for it. Actually, the album feels like a roller coaster ride of guitar delights because of this.

It seems that solo albums are often ignored, but I feel that ignoring Matt Stevens' "Lucid" would be a mistake. It pushes boundaries, experiments freely, and even has the balls to sit back and just play a good ditty. It's an album with no fear of critics, nothing to prove, and unfettered curiosity. Stevens really has crafted a delightful album full of emotional highs and lows, technical prowess and restraint, and melodic genius. Be sure to hear this one!

Second Life Syndrome | 4/5 |

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