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MATT STEVENS

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Matt Stevens biography
UK composer and musician Matt STEVENS has managed to make a name for himself in the last few years utilizing the possibilities of social networks, networking and interaction available on the net, with a strong presence on most popular social networks in general and the ones focusing on music and fan interaction in particular. He's also less negative than most musicians towards the phenomenon filesharing, his point of view that obscurity is a bigger threat and challenge for artists than fans who prefer not to buy all their music. With that in mind he has made his studio albums, of which he's made two so far, available to download with a name your own price option, including the possibility to download for free.

Besides issuing solo albums and performing live as a one-man band, Stevens also release electronic music under the moniker Yonks. He's also a member of the band The Fierce and the Dead.

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MATT STEVENS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 6 ratings
Echo
2008
3.85 | 11 ratings
Ghost
2010
3.44 | 10 ratings
Relic
2011
3.50 | 2 ratings
Lucid
2014

MATT STEVENS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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3.00 | 3 ratings
Song for Dan EP
2010

MATT STEVENS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lucid by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Lucid
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars Here's a quick one amidst my recent business of writing for the upcoming issue of Colossus prog magazine.

This wide-spectred British guitarist was a new acquaintance for me, nor had I ever heard of his band The Fierce & the Dead. Lucid is the fourth album under his own name. Its instrumental music - one could label it as Post-Rock - with lots of angularity and distortion often brings the latter-day KING CRIMSON to my mind. Many tracks are actually a bit too restless for my ears, but there are some contemplative nuances too.

Especially 'Coulrophobia' has some fascinating sound painting. Most of the eleven tracks last under three minutes, but why stretch them if the message comes effectively through in a shorter form? An exception to this rule is 'The Bridge' which approaches 12 minutes in length. would have enjoyed to hear more of this kind of diving into the atmosphere. Lucid is a personal and interesting album for challenge-seeking art rock taste.

(Perhaps with less subjetive approach my rating could be four stars...)

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 Lucid by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Lucid
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

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!

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 Relic by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.44 | 10 ratings

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Relic
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Relic by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.44 | 10 ratings

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Relic
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator 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!

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 Relic by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.44 | 10 ratings

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Relic
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

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

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 Ghost by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.85 | 11 ratings

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Ghost
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK composer and multi-instrumentalist Matt STEVENS has been making quite a name for himself in the last few years. Utilizing the possibilities of the Internet in general and social networking in particular, he has built up a fan base and gained a good reputation. "Ghost" is his second production and was released in 2010.

Acoustic progressive rock isn't a type of music that surfaces too often, and for those who enjoy such productions Matt Stevens is an artist well worth checking out for past, present and future releases. He's creative and innovative, and utilizes his chosen tools in a good, effective and rather adventurous manner. And as such this one will be given a general recommendation to those who favor refined acoustic music, and prefer it served with a liberal dose of art rock flavoring.

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 Echo by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.04 | 6 ratings

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Echo
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Acoustic guitar heaven!

This is what I would say about UK composer Matt Stevens, whose music is based in acoustic guitar. His compositions are very original, well-structured and designed to catch everyone's attention, he caught mine since the first time I ever listened to his music, he really knows how to use that acoustic guitar and how to express with it. Back in 2008 he released his album entitled "Echo", which consists of ten compositions that make a total time of 33 minutes, so as you see, all of them are short tracks, but with high quality.

"Burning Bandstands" is the first song here which curiously happens to be the longest one, the only one that passes the four minutes length. Since the first moments we can appreciate Stevens' style and feel attracted by the sound, which is calm, charming, promising and enjoyable. "Airships" has that inherent Spanish feeling, here also can notice that he also uses the guitar as a percussion instrument by delicately hitting at its body. It is great to listen to different guitars used as back and foreground.

"Drama in the Coals" follows the same path as the previous one, actually I would say the sound is pretty alike in most of the tracks, which does not necessarily means it is repetitive, I actually would say this is Stevens' style and that's it. "Flies in the Basement" is one of my favorite tracks, with an Andalusian style, mixed with some kind of jazzy tone, reminding me a bit of Paco de Luca or Al di Meola. Wonderful track.

"Snow part 3" is a shorter track, and with a different style, a more melancholic sound, even sad and disarming at the same time, like a moment of reflection. With "Chasing the Sun" the music returns as the style we are used to. Nice acoustic guitar harmonies, cool repetitive background and an always constant and interesting foreground.

The name of Rodrigo y Gabriela also came to my mind while listening to some Stevens' pieces, it would be cool if they three gathered together for one night and make a glorious acoustic guitar trio. "Spencer Park" is another shorter track, with a calmer sound, a nice structure and some additional elements that makes it richer. One can be listening to this and feeling relaxed, happy, pleased.

"West Green" might be a kind of reggae-classic-acoustic track, mainly due to the friendly rhythm. The last part has also some nice spacey effects. "Jubilee" may be more of the same, the first seconds with the hit to the guitar's body, and later the stringsbeing played with high quality, once again. And finally "Dolls house" which is another of my favorite tracks, a great way to finish the album.

Matt Stevens music is great, I really like his style, though "Ghost" is still my favorite album (and better than this, in my opinion) I am happy with "Echo", a cool album whose music may appeal to any prog lover. My final grade will be three stars (3.5).

Enjoy it!

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 Ghost by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.85 | 11 ratings

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Ghost
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I am very glad that I was the PA member who "sponsored" Matt's inclusion on the site as a solo artist, and I am grateful to the Crossover team for their no nonsense agreement.

Matt Stevens is a very talented multi instrumentalist who has been making quite a few waves in the progressive rock community in recent times. This superb album, released last year, received a glowing review from Classic Rock Presents Prog, no less, and he is clearly a very busy live artist as well. If you can, get his Live In Blackpool album from his Bandcamp site.

Whilst, I suppose, the multi instrumentalist tag will raise the inevitable Mike Oldfield comparisons, do not be fooled, because, if anything, the closest I can describe this man's music as getting to is Anthony Phillips, formerly of Genesis fame. This is meant as a deep compliment, because this is primarily a guitar led album which reminds me in so many ways of some of Phillips' finest moments such as Field Day. Stevens manages that extremely difficult trick of making acoustic and non vocal music remain interesting for the duration, and no better example can be found than in the cracking pace of Big Sky, built around a simple acoustic chord, but with such a pace and variations found in the effects at the end to make you smile in wonder at it all.

The previous reviewer rightly, in my opinion, drew comparisons between some of the music on offer here and Radiohead, although, in my opinion, it moves way beyond that. Whilst, these days, Radiohead tend to make me feel rather despairing and miserable, this doesn't. The bright percussion and simple, but effective, bass riff accompanying the Greenwood- esque guitar on Eleven is perhaps the best example. It's cheerful and uplifting.

Just about my favourite track is Draw, featuring some extremely clever acoustic guitar work, bright and uplifting, set against a lovely jazzy drum and bass backdrop. Effects towards the end bring a very eclectic feel, and it is here, I think, that my only note of criticism comes to proceedings. I love Stevens' acoustic guitar work, but I do feel that future offerings might wish to explore tracks which feature, for example, samplings, bass, drums, and other instruments more to the fore, if only to "mix it up" a little more.

For example, I love the percussive work on the longest track on offer here, Lake Man. It is a marvellous piece of music, with some very nice effects which, in my opinion, should have been more to the fore alongside the stunningly simple, but supremely effective, percussion beat. That said, you do rather marvel at the guitar playing. Similarly, I love the glockenspiel on the mellow Glide.

The final two tracks, the title track itself, and Moondial, finish off proceedings in a very strong manner.

Ghost creates a mood and a soundscape that cries out at you that there might just be something, or somebody, watching you. Far more satisfying than any of the mad psychic frauds you see on telly in bringing you closer to the "other side".

Moondial has a cracking riff attached to it, and I wonder just how much more it would have achieved with a little more "electricity", for want of a better phrase.

I have no hesitation in awarding this album four stars. It is excellent, and it is, to me, refreshing to hear a new artist bringing this approach rather than some of the interminable doom laden metal that seems to be particularly in vogue at the moment.

Very highly recommended to all who appreciate Phillips, Hackett, and Fripp in his more ambient moments. I think that this man is capable of bringing a genuine masterpiece to us in the not too distant future, and I think this will be done by bringing a work based around the full range of his obvious musical talents, rather than a pure acoustic guitar led album, as pleasurable as that undoubtedly is.

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 Song for Dan EP by STEVENS, MATT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Song for Dan EP
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A nice tribute to a friend!

This is what talented British guitarist Matt Stevens did last year (2010) when he released his EP entitled "Song for Dan", I will quote from his official site: "This is a song for our friend Dan Wilson, who was a lovely, inspirational, kind man, a wonderful filmmaker, friend and musician" who sadly passed away. This is once again a proof that people are an essential part of us, without them, we wouldn't be anything. So what better to take inspiration from them.

What we will find here is a long 18-minute track which is (as you imagine) entitled "Song for Dan" as the EP name itself. Matt Stevens shows us once again his gifted skills, his talented style and his love for guitars and music. You can download this EP (and other Stevens works) from his bandcamp site for free, or pay what you want; so I suggest you to go and do it, it is worth it.

You will have here 18 minutes of tranquility, melancholy, sadness and hope, all together in a beautiful song where Stevens' arrangements show his compositional skills and his capacity of creating emotions on the listener. Though the song may be repetitive and apparently plain at the first listen, I suggest you to listen to it carefully and several times, so you can truly appreciate it and notice the vast amount of elements and figures implemented. In just ten minutes I am sure you can feel trapped in its beautiful atmosphere, but prepare yourself for a change, which comes after 11 minutes in where you will listen to a hypnotizing rhythm guitar while the lead one plays fantastic notes. Later it returns to its charming and atmospheric sound, and it goes on until the very last minute.

This song is really emotive and sweet, a great tribute and rendition that Matt Stevens created. My final grade will be three stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Ghost by STEVENS, MATT album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.85 | 11 ratings

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Ghost
Matt Stevens Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Review originally written at www.therocktologist.com

Fresh, imaginative, dreamy. A great acoustic guitar oriented album.

Some words were spread regarding a talented musician named Matt Stevens. Now fortunately I could listen to his music and know by myself why people talk about him, and praise his music. He is a gifted man who has been working hard for the past years, creating original music inspired by his idols, and now, he is inspiring new musicians himself.

Stevens had previously released a couple of albums in 2008, and last year (2010) his new child saw the light of day. Entitled "Ghosts", it is downloadable from his website, and you pay what you wish. A huge facility for us, the listeners who want to know high quality stuff. So now I tell you, go to his website and download it. You will not regret it.

"Ghosts" consists on ten compositions that make a total time of 42 minutes. It kicks off with "Into the Sea", which shows the style of the music since the very first seconds. Acoustic guitar all the way, samples, some percussion and a charming atmosphere. "Big Sky" is one of the three songs that reach the five minutes length. The sound is pretty cool. This particular track makes me think of a curious mixture of some post-rock feelings, with a Riccardo Zappa style. I really love the mood created, and how you can listen to different guitars, one above other, but all with a clean and interesting sound.

"Eleven" is a shorter but interesting track. When I first read that he had some Radiohead hints, I thought it was a joke, but the guitar here made me think of some Radiohead tracks, and I don't know if he is aware of that and likes that band. Anyway, the sound is soft and calm, a couple of minutes to relax and think. "Draw" is a cool composition that starts with drums, and little by little it is creating a repetitive but addictive sound. It has different passages that at the same time create a different atmosphere. This is a very cool track that shows once again his skill and capacity as a composer.

"Burnt out Car" has some kind of bossa-nova feeling at first. It also reminded me of a young Canadian band called The Hylozoists. I like how that delicious sound is contrasted later with a cool change, and how it returns to its first form. Now, "Lake Man" is the longest composition and a wonderful one. He uses some electronic drums that are combined with his delicate guitar playing, the rhythm is semi-slow and makes me think of a song for a documentary. I believe it could work for something like that. There is a sense of melancholy and even disillusion, however at minute five the song takes a new breath and rises from the ashes, like exacting revenge.

"Glide" is a gentle and charming composition. A short one, but a song that may make you feel tranquil, happy, relaxed - who knows, it is beautiful. "8.19" is a track that sums up Stevens' style. Here you can appreciate that slice of post-rock, accompanied by a charming and delicate sound. Of course, his acoustic guitar playing is wonderful, a first-level musician who has thankfully dedicated time to create excellent music. In this song we can also listen to some electronic sounds as background, I am not sure if it is a keyboard or an electric guitar, and though the song structure may be repetitive, I really like it. The last two minutes have additional drums.

The title track comes next. "Ghost" is a smooth song which has a sweet harmonica sound as background, accompanying of course the always predominant acoustic guitar. What I love is when we can listen to different guitars at the same time playing different things. I would love to see Matt Stevens on stage sometime. I assume he uses loops for live shows, or maybe he invites guest guitarists. I don't know. The last song is entitled "Moondial", once again a soft and delicate composition that can capture the attention of any listener. Here, the repetition is not boring, it is actually addictive. So sit down, rest and listen to this cool music, music for your senses. The last two minutes are more powerful and of course, beautiful.

I am happy with this album, Stevens is a new talented guy whose music must touch your ears, so please give it a spin. I highly recommend it! My final grade is four stars! Enjoy it!

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