|Matthew and The Atlas — Other Rivers (2014)|
Matthew and The Atlas — Other Rivers
••» “For I have discovered that there are other rivers. And this my boys will not know for a long time nor can they be told. A great many never come to know that there are other rivers.” — John Steinbeck. “Other Rivers marks a massive step forward off the precipice of Hegarty’s true potential. There is much more to come, of that I’m certain. He has something to offer that’s unique in a musical world that desperately needs artists of this caliber.” — HEIDI DROCKELMAN
••» “Will the UK folk scene ever properly recover from the sonic crimes of Mumford & Sons? Of course it will, and here’s Matthew and the Atlas’ Matt Hegarty to make a confident case for the defence. On his Communion Records debut Other Rivers, Hegarty has produced an impressive showcase for both his eclectic musicality and ability as a vocal songwriter, successfully combining the poetic leanings of British folk into a modern musical context.
••» While our American brethren have continued to dominate the genre, the domestic scene has been met with undeserved apprehension. Matthew and the Atlas are the real deal. A cornerstone and a real asset to the British folk circuit.” — Ben Philpott
Location: Aldershot ~ London, UK
Album release: April 14th, 2014
Record Label: The Communion Label
01 Into Gold 3:50
02 Pale Sun Rose 3:04
03 To the North 3:36
04 Out of the Darkness 4:10
05 Counting Paths 4:07
06 Everything That Dies 4:27
07 Nowhere Now 3:45
08 A Memory of You 3:24
09 Old Ceremony 3:37
10 Another Way 3:21
© Matthew & the Atlas 2014
RIYL: Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne, David Gray
By Graeme Marsh | posted on 8 Apr 2014 | Score: ****
••» London based musician and part–time landscape gardener Matt Hegarty, the driving force behind folk–rooted Americana outfit Matthew and the Atlas, has sculpted a completely different shape to his music on debut album Other Rivers; as such, this long–awaited album marks a considerable career crossroads that will no doubt disappoint some fans but also draw in many others.
••» Whilst earlier EPs focused on a folky, acoustic banjo–heavy sound, the new offering has been heavily influenced by producer Kevin Jones who introduced Hegarty to the wonders of Apple’s Logic software. This results in a considerable shift towards Moby–like electronica based soundscapes, with vocal melodies sitting prettily on top like fancy icing on the sweetest of baked delights.
••» A couple of album tracks have already appeared — Out Of The Darkness and Everything That Dies — so fans have a fair idea of what to expect from the album. A bleak keyboard line opens the former, a sparse opening that elevates the rather shy and humble Hegarty’s really rather stunning vocals, the track then developing into something almighty through the introduction of a basic guitar riff and washes of synths to create a shimmering, almost shoegaze backdrop in places. The latter begins sparsely once more, sublimely layered vocal harmonies virtually unaccompanied before delicate piano arrives; the track may evoke sadness through its sonic construction but the repeated message of “you said everyone you know one day will surely die, but everything that dies in some way returns” somehow instils belief within even the most ardent of disbelievers.
••» A compelling video starring acclaimed actor Charlie Cox accompanies the first official single from the album — Pale Sun Rose — with trademark banjos making a rare appearance to great effect. Hegarty’s vocals often bear resemblance to Cherry Ghost’s Simon Aldred and that’s evident here, helping to create another highly enjoyable cut. To The North is a new take on an older, folky effort that opens to a constant keyboard sequence permeating throughout but the male/female vocal harmonies of the original cut remain and are quite simply spine–tinglingly fantastic.
••» Album opener Into Gold and Counting Paths are possibly the most captivating tracks on the album. The former begins with more minimalism, floaty synths and a pulsing beat that drives the track forward before being joined by tambourine, banjo and stunning goosebump–creating synth chords — it bears all the hallmarks of a wannabe track of the year contender but frustratingly closes too soon. Strings open Counting Paths, leading to synth pulses and minimal percussion; gorgeous vocal harmonies then float above the perfect soundscape before simple, atmospheric piano chords hit the mark with Hegarty pre–empting fans’ views on the whole album by declaring “no one’s ever looked at me that way”.
••» Although the second half of the album drops away from the magnificence that has gone before it, there is not a weak track in sight. Old Ceremony replicates the sparse emptiness of much of the album with more electronica adorning the captivating backdrop alongside more simple guitar riffing. Album closer Another Way aims for the clouds with acoustic guitar and remarkable falsetto backing vocals from Australian vocalist Matt Corby that lift the track to greater heights.
••» It’s a far cry from earlier material like the rollicking banjo–fest I Followed Fires from 2011, but in all honesty who wants another Mumford And Sons or even Ray LaMontagne. It’s become a rather saturated market and, with the ability to craft stunningly effective vocal harmonies and melodies still intact from their early guise, Hegarty’s music is so much more. Fortaken: http://www.musicomh.com/
BY CATRIONA BOYLE, 9 APRIL 2014; Score: 7.5/10
••» After already establishing himself in the UK and the US, releasing two EPs and being the first signing to the now mainstay label Communion, this debut full length album from Matthew and the Atlas, aka Matt Hegarty, has most definitely been a long time coming.
••» Other Rivers is not a wet behind the ears, fresh faced debut. Matthew’s voice is in fact the opposite of anything remotely newborn; gravelly, deep, and the glorious consistency of honey, it’s a weather–beaten, worn in leather jacket of a voice. In his early EPs it took centre stage, with a predominantly acoustic backing. Other Rivers marks a definite change in his approach, moving away from the humble acoustic, and more towards an electronic and rhythm based composition, building layers of sound, piqued with subtle beats and breaks.
••» There is no immediacy to Other Rivers, no fanfare or anything that instantly demands attention. Instead, it’s an album that the terms ‘slow–burn’ and ‘a grower’ were invented for. Shimmering into existence with “Into Gold”, a warm, still, sun–drenched track that shines in and out with almost a capella vocals, rising to a banjo and tambourine led middle eight, before sinking into the horizon.
••» The dramatic peak of “Pale Sun Rose” has the slightly disorientated feel that Villagers do so well, with interweaving melodies and a busy, clustered sound. One of the examples of the new directions MatA has gone in, it’s followed, by contrast, by “To the North”, a reworking of an older track that drops back down to an acoustic, sparser feel, with the yearning, upward reaching vocals that were so present in earlier recordings.
••» The unexpected major chords of the predominantly minor “Out of Darkness” along with discordant strings, and a regulatory drum machine backing makes this one of the most dramatic pieces on the album, in a swirl of mystery and tumultuousness. ••» The juxtaposition of dark, wistful lyrics, written plainly and cleanly, with an uplifting, rabble–rousing melody becomes more apparent later on in the album, in particular “Everything That Dies”, with the mantra ‘you said everyone you know, one day ill surely die/but everything that dies in some way returns’ transforming it from what starts a gospel–esque melody into an electronic backed epic chorus.
••» “Other Rivers” lives up to its name to a tee. From the meandering early tracks, to the gushing, rushing later sounds of “Nowhere Now” and “Old Ceremony”, it’s a journeying album with a sense of movement throughout. Whilst lyrically, there’s a strong thread of longing and the past, musically, it’s constantly moving forwards, and after MatA’s somewhat leisurely start, it’s nice to see this promising progression. (http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/)
By Ben Philpott; 9th April 2014 12:00:00
By HEIDI DROCKELMAN:
Agent: US — Jonathan Levine @ Paradigm Agency / UK and EU —
|Matthew and The Atlas — Other Rivers (2014)|