Matt Stevens – Lucid


Review by Gary Cordwell

Cherry Red

Release Date: 31 March 2014

Matt Stevens is best known as a member of The Fierce And The Dead and a solo acoustic guitarist, known for his live shows where he plays over samples of himself that he also plays live and samples in a style known as ‘live looping’ (a la John Martyn), but this is a step in a different, darker direction. This record was three years in the making and is, according to Stevens, “inspired by a dark time but is hopefully an uplifting record”. This is borne out immediately with ‘Oxymoron’, and a huge, insistent, fuzzy riff which suddenly drops out from under you to be replaced by a gentle noodle before kicking back in and ending with a stinging solo – all in under 3 minutes.

Indeed, brevity is a byword for this record, the majority of songs are all on or around the 3 minute mark but are perfectly formed, neither feeling rushed nor outstaying their welcome. Plus they display a nice, somewhat dizzying degree of styles – from the vibe drenched, almost New Age-y ambient acoustics of ‘Coulrophobia’ (fear of clowns before you ask) to the Mahavishnu Orchestra homage of ‘The Ascent’. However, the acoustic one-two of ‘K.E.A’ and ‘Street And Circus’ lead us into the 12 minute, post rock epic ‘The Bridge’, the records centrepiece and virtually the record itself in microcosm. A huge, Isis-like lumbering riff begins the build and release cycle, falling away to be replaced by passages of dark ambience which in turn spiral off before that riff kicks the door open again for a storming, kitchen sink finish.

This record feels almost elemental, moving in a stately manner. There are short, squally showers, warm, relaxing interludes of sunshine and calm but always that fuzz returns, harsh bursts of distortion approach and pass like thunderclouds until that final storm passes and we are left with the solo acoustic ‘A Boy’, in which I swear you can hear breathing and fingertips brushing strings! If there is any justice in the world, Lucid will bring Matt Stevens to a much larger audience. He has stepped daringly away from his usual sound to bring us this loud, accessible, post-rock creation which marries a heftier, Jesu-influenced sound to his usual Fripp-eries. Check this one out.

Matt Stevens – Lucid8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Oxymoron
  2. Flow
  3. Unsettled
  4. The Other Side
  5. The Ascent
  6. Coulrophobia
  7. Lucid
  8. K.E.A.
  9. Street And Circus
  10. The Bridge
  11. A Boy



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