There is a wonderful and inherent bleakness to Mat’s music in general and this latest release in particular. But where as many artists seem to force such a vibe into their songs, here it seems to be a natural state of affairs. And again where many would create such a feeling by employing age old tricks and overworked cliches, this brand of gothic folk is attained more through what is left out rather than what is put in. I Think I’m Getting Used To This is built from hypnotic, minor key repetition, sparse and poignant lyricism and delicate middle distance musical details. Throw in a haunting, disembodied choir of fallen angels and you have the sound of sadness rather than despair, melancholy rather than misery. And it is his ability to stay on the right side of those lines which avoids the musical traps and obvious pitfalls.
Communication builds from the skittering groove of a Cave/Ellis soundtrack into something slightly more driven but no less dark, feeling like the perfect playout track to film that sees the protagonists drive off into the distance having failed in their endeavours, lost friends and realised that real life generally doesn’t come with a happy ending. The oddly named Trace the Whale from The Shoreline with the Other Men sits somewhere between a funeral dirge and a broken prayer to gods unknown and perfectly highlights the strange beauty of the lyrics, words that seem deliberately obscure, massively intimate and all the more powerful for their strange mystique.
Like everything that Mat puts out, the songs found here are as strange as they are beguiling and conform to an idea that it doesn’t pay to make things easy or accessible for the listener. As bare and brooding as the songs are they conjure wonderful scenarios in your head, scenes from film-noirs yet to be made, chapters from a long lost classic Russian novel, personal and insular yet full of lines which speak to the listener, if only in a language half understood. As always Mat’s music is worth taking the time to explore, to think about, to find deeper meaning in, its just a shame that more music doesn’t offer such rewards but then again if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it and these releases would lose some of their singular magic.