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Matt Stevens - Relic CD (album) cover


Matt Stevens

Crossover Prog

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3 stars Matt Stevens is a one man band from England and very active on the live circuit.

..... Hence, I expected a crossbreed between Bob Dylan and Genesis. Nice little cosy music over a Yorkshire pudding and a pint of Sheepdip Bitter in a nice pub together with some middle aged intellectual penguins from the local village.

That is everything this album is not.

Relic is not even a relic. Relic is music wise a heady mix of post rock, math rock, nu-metal, electronica, new age, space rock, jazz and some folk rock. In short; Matt Stevens has created his own universe. An universe more for college and university students than old penguins. This music is performed in a minimals setting with as few instruments as possible. The result is a very open sound where the melodies and the instruments gets plenty of space to breathe. Each tone gets enough air to really make an impact. Fans of Sigur Ros will like this type of minimalism. Matt Stevens distant relatives on Iceland would like this album because it has an Icelandic feel. But this album also dips into the white noise and avant-garde territory too.

The quality of the material is very good. This album lacks a real killer track which would send it into orbit. This is an album that deserve a bit maturing over time and I reserve my right to come back to it and upgrade my review in due time though. That's because there is complex stuff here I may not get when working to a self imposed deadline.

And yes, I would like to pay to see Matt Stevens live. But I would probably exchange the pint of Sheepdip Bitter with a glass of Australian's finest chardonnay white wine. I am sure Matt Stevens has a nice future ahead of him although he is not a Bob Dylan copy.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#556002)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the third studio album by talented UK guitar player Matt Stevens, whose music I fortunately discovered in early 2011. For this latest release entitled "Relic", Stevens was helped by three of his friends, playing bass, drums and violin. The album features ten compositions and a total time of 42 minutes. It opens with "Nightbus", a cool song which is progressing little by little, adding new elements while the seconds pass. The guitar work is great, but perfectly complemented by the other instruments.

"Relic" has a nice combination of acoustic and electric guitar. Though the music might not be the perfect example of progressive rock, here we find a cool mixture of rock, with some jazz hints, and with an inherent post-rock feeling. This composition is excellent, several nuances can be appreciated here, and the emotional touch is also good. "Rusty" has an orientation to the acoustic guitar, creating a sound close to flamenco, without being flamenco, actually.

"20 GOTO 10" is a very good track. Here the electronic element is crucial because it does not disappear during its whole length. I like the different changes in mood and tempo, and how it is progressing until reaching a climax in both, the musical and the emotional side. With "Rushden Fair" comes a totally different track, purely acoustic, with the delicate sound that Stevens implements. "Up" gathers a vast amount of elements, several textures and nuances can be appreciated here. The sound goes from indie to rock, with some soft folkish moments.

"Spacegoat" has again that post-rock feeling with some spacey hints. It keeps like this for two minutes, then it slows down and add a beautiful violin sound that makes the music more emotional. "Sand (part 2)" starts really slow with acoustic guitar and a soft synth background, it continues like this for more than two minutes, until then the electronic drums appear. Then it keeps progressing and adding some odd noises.

"Frost" is the shortest song but ironically it is the most explosive, the only one that really contrasts because it has a powerful start that sounds like a metal track. But well, it only lasts for some 30 seconds and then it slows down and changes completely, but guess what, the explosion returns. The album finishes with "30 END" that in the other hand, is the longest track. It has a good melody, nice use of both acoustic and electric guitar, sometimes complemented by a synth background, sometimes just alone.

Well, this is a very good album by Matt Stevens that once again shows his talent as composer and performer, and though it is not my favorite of him, I liked it. My final grade will be three stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#644961)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK composer and multi-instrumentalist Matt STEVENS is a good example of the modern artist utilizing contemporary means to find and establish a fan base, utilizing social networks in particular to maintain contact with his audience, which has enabled him to establish a career as a solo artist in a relative short amount of time. "Relic" is his third full length production, and was released in 2011.

"Relic" is an interesting production by Matt Stevens, and while partially abandoning the concept of acoustic progressive rock of the one-man DIY variety, he does again showcase the strength of the acoustic guitar quite nicely. And while the arrangements are fleshed out with quite a few additional instruments on this occasion, the compositions themselves are all planned out on this instrument initially, unless I'm much mistaken. The end result is a credit to the creativity of this fine UK artist, and well worth seeking out for those with a taste for art rock that doesn't explore well known territories already frequently explored.

Report this review (#747087)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | Review Permalink

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