Friday, June 15, 2007

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea - "Spellbound" from Spider Sunday


Matthew and the Arrogant Sea
“Spellbound” from Spider Sunday
Pop Matters 2007

Of all the musicians from the Pop Matters (www.myspace.com/popmatters) and Now Hereness recording collective, I think Matthew and the Arrogant Sea (www.myspace.com/matthewandthearrogantsea) is perhaps the most talented and gifted. Actually, I am quite sure of it. That said, he is also the artist with the most room to grow musically.

First and foremost, Matthew has a voice that can cause one to stop and pause and sit back in sheer awe of its utter beauty. His exploratory range rates equivalent (and sounds a lot like) the heavily exploratory and drug-laden years of Brian Wilson (see: Pet Sounds and Smile) or even, more similarly, to the modern day rockers — with a Beach Boys bent — My Morning Jacket.

On his track “Spellbound” from his upcoming release Spider Sunday, we are introduced to Matthew’s exploratory vocal vision: different tracks weaving in and out with one another, at times cascading together while others work in separate keys of unique harmony. This wonderment of using the vocals as the primary instrument is something I am growing more and more akin to these days: and his spooky and at times haunting vocal delivery make Matthew and The Arrogant Sea all the more appealing.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, Matthew is hands down, a gifted musician, but he has room to grow in the studio. The one down side to “Spellbound” and other such recordings is that they are almost too reverb heavy (like listening to him singing in a distant, distant hallway). I sadly, have a hard time making out the lyrics to the songs. The fact that Matthew’s artistry still shines through this studio issue is truly a testament to his ability.

I am reminded of what Nigel Godrich said to Thom Yorke on his Eraser album; that he was putting his foot down to recording his vocals with any reverb at all. Yorke complained and tried his best to add it in. But Godrich insisted, as he wanted the presence of Yorke’s vocals to be immediate and never distant. And it paid of remarkably. I think to myself, how equally remarkable Matthew and the Arrogant Sea would be with that slight change in studio work. With a voice as stunning as his, it is a shame to ever hide that with any studio trickery, and it is best to keep it as raw, emotional and close to the heart as possible.

-Mark Dougherty

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