John Matthias - Blind
John Matthias - Blind
(promo CD/Download) Counter Records COUNT014P/COUNTDNL014, 2008-05-19
01. I Will Disappear
02. Blind Lead The Blind
Press Release :
There are a lot of stories you can tell about John Matthias. We could paint him as a mad scientist, a contemporary composer, a violin prodigy, and on and on. But John Matthias is more interested in talking about other people than he is about himself.
The upcoming album, "Stories From The Watercooler", due in June, is a suite of twelve short stories rendered in song form. Their basic template is classic folk-rock - great song-writing, acoustic and electric guitar, strings. But within this seemingly simple formula John writes about a myriad of subjects.
Three album tracks make it onto this single, "I Will Disappear" is about credit ratings and telephone banking meeting a fictional out of body religious experience which swirls up and up into the ether, "Blind Lead The Blind" is about blind faith in generral, especially faux -alternative healing thereapies such as luxor light and comes on all Bowie-before-he-lost-it, "Evermore" is another stand-out, a moment of still beauty and genuine emotional weight about Internment camps in 1940s California detaining all Japanese people, the rhythm part is made with the sounds of marbles on a marble run on a fridge door plus bang on a table plus the sound of a microphone dragging over a page of a book processed through John Matthias's Neuro Granular Sampler (his invention which mimics neuron activity in the brain).
But beyond this, he also wraps the ‘classic' sound of the record in two levels of complexity. First there's a choice of instrumentation that includes harmoniums, banjos, clarinets and mono synths. Then there's the layers of electronic complexity added by his own experimental devices and the work of Coldcut, who produced the album. Last but not least there is Matthias' voice - deadpan, up-close and all the more emotional for the lack of histrionics.
None of this should be surprising. You only have to look at the list of artists Matthias has collaborated with to expect him to combine the cerebral with real feeling. The artwork for "Stories…" is provided by Stanley Donwood, best known for his record covers for Thom Yorke, the three of them having been contemporaries at Exeter University. Thom and John played in a band together during their student days and the latter added violin to "The Bends". Matthias went on to work with the maverick Matthew Herbert and released his debut album, "Smalltown Shining" on Herbert's Accidental Records in 2001. He also featured on Coldcut's last album, "Sound Mirrors,", from which his contribution, "Man In A Garage," was one of the lead singles. In addition, he is a member of the Interdisciplinary Centre For Computer Music Research at Plymouth University, having developed "The Brain," a form of artificial intelligence which he uses to programme and create his drum sounds.
This is clever, emotional, unfashionable music-making - it's not about John Matthias, it's not about the trials and tribulations of celebrity or non-celebrity. It's about the everyday and the unusual, about how people relate or fail to relate. A kind of folk music for a new millennium, it's about life and the world.