|Matt Elliott — The Broken Man (2012)|
Matt Elliott ≈ The Broken Man
Location: Bristol, England
Album release: January 16, 2012
Record Label: Ici d´Ailleurs
1. Oh How We Fell 11:49
2. Please Please Please 2:34
3. Dust Flesh and Bones 9:16
4. How to Kill a Rose 1:59
5. If Anyone Tells Me... 13:23
6. This Is for 3:51
7. The Pain That's Yet to Come 3:41
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By Nick Neyland; February 17, 2012 // 7.1
¶ The career of Matt Elliott feels like it's been conducted in a peculiar half-light. The Bristol expat doesn't appear to care too much for exposure, quietly releasing album after album either as a progenitor of the kind of dusky soundscapes dubstep would come to inhabit under his Third Eye Foundation guise, or turning to the mopey ruin of the folk-tinged work under his own name. The Broken Man is his latest stab at the latter, a rigidly austere set of seven songs enveloped in blood, sorrow, and torment. At times it feels like Elliott made it after falling flat on the studio floor, face down, choking on dust and bitter rumination. But these aren't "small" songs; this is an all-encompassing misery, grandiose in its own way, with great rushes of strings and doomy multi-tracked vocal hums zooming into the frame to pull Elliott up by his bootstraps. On the lengthy "Oh How We Fell", there's even the clang of an ominous church bell, acting as a wonderfully dramatic portent of changes in mood and focus.
¶ Elliott has sunk down to this place before, on equally remorseful work such as the appropriately titled Drinking Songs from 2005. The touchstones here are similar. When he lets his pangs of grief flush out on lengthy tracks such as "If Anyone Tells Me 'It's Better to Have Loved and Lost Than to Never Have Loved at All' I Will Stab Them in the Face", it's reminiscent of the sweeping mixture of guts and grief that make up Dirty Three's stylistic métier. Like that band's music, there's a ruptured form of beauty here too, and it's one that takes a great deal of care and consideration to uncover. The standout "Dust, Flesh and Bones" takes numerous plays to really get to grips with its one-part Leonard Cohen-esque lament, one-part lawless-border-town feel. These songs are cloaked in darkness on initial plays, with Elliott building an impenetrable wall around them, only to remove it brick by brick over time.
¶ It's a combination of his meticulous attention to detail and a knack for knowing how to let song structures softly contract into new shapes that makes it work. The joins don't show when "This Is For" turns from a quietly picked acoustic folk number into a stridently thumbed Spanish guitar piece. Elliott takes that initiative and picks it up again in the following song, "The Pain That's Yet to Come", matching the same guitar style to a backdrop of Caligulan cries and moans and great rushes of noise, providing a neat conceptual loop back to similar work earlier in the album. At times there's a mixture of the pit-of-despair weight of Townes van Zandt's best tracks and the light/dark dynamic the most recent incarnation of Swans is so immersed in. The close of "Oh How We Fell", where filmy acoustic work falls into a deep well of gravely sighs and operatic trills, feels like the world turning upside-down following a swift kick to the feet of Elliott's barstool.
¶ The Broken Man is a brawny, robust album, the type of record that carries an uncommon weight and honesty. When Elliott darkly intones, "this is how it feels to be alone," on "Dust, Flesh and Bones", there's complete conviction in his dead-eyed delivery, conveying an unwavering faith in his emotional regression. In lesser hands it's a line that could read as trite; with Elliott it feels well-worn, as though it's been churning around his head for years, gathering emotional baggage with the passing of time. But this isn't just a highly crafted plummet to the depths. There's an eerie, unearthly sense of displacement to much of the material, such as the spindly cries of bowed saw (or something simulating the sound of one) on "How to Kill a Rose". Those atmospheric touches make this feel like Elliott's most complete work to date, forming a vital link between his sunless balladry and the shattered electronica of Third Eye Foundation.
¶ Fortaken: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16294-the-broken-man/
¶ The Songs Trilogy is over, A new chapter entitled 'The Broken Man' is about to open and is the most delicate of Elliott's albums to date. The angry noise has all but abated, making way for more fragile melodies and a more subtle approach to intensity to immerse the listener. Ideally listened to in total darkness to discover the hope hidden deep within the guitars, voice, choirs, bells, ethereal trumpets, the howl of the dog beneath the skin, in the sincerity of the music. Inspired by the ghosts of European folk music, the voice often resigned but always expressive.
¶ Always finding new ways of working, Elliott collaborated with Katia Labeque who interpreted an improvisation of his that became the backbone of one of the central epic pieces on this album 'If Anyone Ever Tells Me That it is Better to Have Loved and Lost Than to Have Never Loved At All I Will Stab Them in the Face'. 'Dust Flesh and Bones', another of the epic pieces on this album, is perhaps Elliott's most beautiful and moving work to date, simple in it's form but emotionally profound. 'The Pain that's Yet to Come' hints at a new almost psychedelic era to come.
¶ 'The Broken Man' is an album to be discovered gradually over many listens, and with each one a new depth is surrendered until one can appreciate the panorama in it's entirety. Each track is an invitation to explore one mans analysis of his own descent reflecting the frustrations and sadness that touch us all at some point.
Mixed by Yann Tiersen this album is a bridge between the more acoustic work of 'Songs' and the more electronic, ethereal work of Third Eye Foundation. It is finely balanced in the centre of Matt's musical universe.
By Andrew Stecz / Examiner, Cincinnati
¶ Matt Elliott debuted his dark folk music in 2003 with The Mess We Made, and his dark and at times spastic electronic music seven years earlier with Semtex (Linda’s Strange Vacation, 1996) under the moniker The Third Eye Foundation.
¶ The two have little in common except for some of the mood in the dark ambient moments of Third Eye Foundation. Elliott’s first release under his name, Borderline Schizophrenic (2003), is an electronic album dialed down from his Third Eye Foundation sound.
¶ The Mess We Made (Domino, 2003) was a revolving door of elegiac instrumentals, with some singing but effectively as a set of mourning guitars, and sections with electronic percussion brought over from Third Eye Foundation and his debut EP (Also Ran, The Mess We Made, Forty Days). Drinking Songs (Ici, d'ailleurs...,2005) continues the mournful refrain cutting a bit deeper with the detached vocals on “The Kursk”, but giving back all it gained with the out of place electronic percussion on “The Maid We Messed”.
¶ Failing Songs (Ici, d'ailleurs...,2006) is an even better album than Drinking Songs adding a Spanish dance to the sorrow. Howling Songs (Ici, d'ailleurs...,2008) was a step back in the dark mood he created on Drinking Songs and Failing Songs adding a “howling” electric guitar (The Kübler-Ross Model, A Broken Flamenco, Bomb the Stock Exchange) and the vocals on “The Howling Song”.
¶ The Broken Man has a distant “howling” guitar on “The Pain That’s Yet To Come” and the ghostly choirs on “Please Please Please”, “Dust, Flesh and Bones”, and “How to Kill A Rose”, but it is always too little to have any profound effect. The rest of the album is taken up by songs of a broken man in the long “Oh How We Fell” for Spanish guitar, and the too long “If Anyone Tells Me "It's Better to Have Loved and Lost Than to Never Have Loved at All" I Will Stab Them in the Face” for piano and violin, the title being the most powerful aspect of the track.
¶ The short songs (Please Please, Please, This is For, The Pain That’s Yet To Come) are more powerful and profound than either of the two songs over 10 minutes; those longer songs are dampened by the interminable length. "Dust, Flesh and Bones" cuts nearly as deep as some of the older songs in the second half of the song with the refrain, "This is how it feels to be alone" with the haunting bowed saw and faint detached choir.
¶ All recordings were released under the Third Eye Foundation name up to and including 2001's I Poo Poo on Your Juju, later recordings were released under Elliott's own name. 2010's The Dark was again released under The Third Eye Foundation.
¶ Semtex (1996, Linda's Strange Vacation)
¶ In Version (1996, Linda's Strange Vacation) - remixes of Flying Saucer Attack, Amp, Crescent, Hood.
¶ Ghost (1997, Domino Records)
¶ You Guys Kill Me (1998, Domino Records)
¶ Little Lost Soul (2000, Domino)
¶ I Poo Poo on Your JuJu (2001, Domino) - remixes of Yann Tiersen, Tarwater, Urchin, The Remote Viewer, Chris Morris, Blonde Redhead, Faultline and Glanta.
¶ The Mess We Made (2003, Merge)
¶ OuMuPo (2004, 0101 music) - 42 minute remix of Ici d'ailleurs back catalogue with a set of rules http://www.0101-music.com/oumupo.htm
¶ Drinking Songs (2005, Ici, d'ailleurs.../Acuarela Records)
¶ Failing Songs (2006, Ici d'ailleurs/Acuarela Records)
¶ Collected Works (2006, Domino) - combines Ghost, You Guys Kill Me and Little Lost Soul, plus extra tracks
¶ Howling Songs (2008, Ici, d'ailleurs...)
¶ Failed Songs (2009, Ici, d'ailleurs...)
¶ The Dark (2010, Ici, d'ailleurs...)
¶ The Broken Man (2012, Ici, d'ailleurs...)
¶ "Universal Cooler" (1996, Planet Records)
¶ "Semtex" (1997, Domino Records)
¶ "Stars Are Down" (1997, 7" given away with Obsessive Eye magazine, split with KS Kollective)
¶ "Sound of Violence" (1997, Domino)
¶ "There's No End in Sight" (1998, Fat Cat Records, split with V/Vm)
¶ "Fear of a Wack Planet" (1998, Domino)
¶ "In Bristol with a Pistol" (1999, Domino)
¶ "What Is It With You?" (2000, Domino)
¶ "Borderline Schizophrenic" (2003, Domino)
|Matt Elliott — The Broken Man (2012)|