North London resident Matt Stevens already made fame with his releases as a member of Fierce And The Dead, as well as his previous solo works. This year sees another solo album, called Lucid, where he hosts a number of guest musicians, like King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto, Jem Godfrey of *Frost and violinist Chrissie Caulfield, known from Cripple Black Phoenix. These are just a few names of the guest participants of Lucid, while the album's backbone is formed by drummer Stuart Marshall and bass player Charlie Cawood, alongside Matt's guitar escapades.
The music on Lucid is a mixture of electric and acoustic orientated music, sometimes inspired by Robert Fripp's solo work, as well as King Crimson's music. A song like the title track Lucid, definitely has similarities with Robert Fripp's corporation with Adrian Belew in the afore mentioned King Crimson. A strong point here; the composition is completely built on loops, which gives the song a nice, repetitive effect, without losing the listener's attention. Instrumental music usually limits itself to a select group of listeners, but in a way, Matt Stevens's compositions are built like vocal compositions, where guitars interpret the music in way a vocal line could sound, therefore Matt Stevens is pushing the boundaries of instrumental music. Listen to the inspired opener Oxymoron, where a sort of instrumental post-rock is fused with an intriguing melody. Unsettled can be seen as a perfect blend of King Crimson's music, together with hints of post-rock and fierce soundscapes. On The Other Side you have the acoustic intimate minimalistic guitar escapades like K.E.A. and Street And Circus, where classical and jazz influences appear. Another side of Matt's ingenious playing can be heard during the totally controlled chaos in The Ascent, where distorted sounds go hand in hand with seemingly off-key soloing. Absolute highlight of the album is the, “epic” The Bridge, ticking off almost twelve minutes on the clock, where distorted guitars get the company of Chrissie Caufield's violin, and the music turns into a film noir atmosphere, with a classical acoustic midsection, and some heavily distorted guitars that take the song to an end. This composition is a nice contradiction to the ”happy” sounding Flow, that can be heard earlier on the CD, and underlines the variation of the songs.
Can we see Matt Stevens as a guitar hero? Not in the way regular shred monsters are labelled. I guess Matt's playing is more focused on the compositions than to showing off his technical skills on the six string, but then again, guitar players like Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew and Reeves Gabrel usually never get chosen as the ultimate guitarist in polls. In my opinion Matt Stevens can compete with those three impressive musicians, and I would like to see him open for one of the re-incarnations of King Crimson or one of the ProjeKts. It would take him one step further in his career, I guess, ... and one well deserved step!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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