Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Calum’s First Music Review: Matt Stevens “Ghost”

Imagine this: a retired 60-year-old reviewing a new release but that’s the position I’m in but also Matt worryingly.

Matt emailed me yesterday, having found me through a search for the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and asked me to review his new release, “Ghost” which is out today.  Now Matt may be many things but he is not a fool: he will have emailed many blogs and not just this one.

Let me declare my potential conflict of interest here.  I was able to download his album free whereas you have to pay what you think the album or track is worth which could, of course, be nothing. [Available from www.mattstevensguitar.com]

Before my review proper you can have a listen to one track now.

Big Sky                                                              Matt Stevens

You now have a feel for Matt’s music and you can see if you agree with me or not.

I had a look at some of the other reviews and I thought, “Bloody hell”  They’re talking about this influence, that influence of which I had never heard. I can’t do this.” My untutored ear picked up both jazz and classical influences but the thought of never having another opportunity to review hit home.

If you have listened to the track you’ll know that the album is guitar in front but interwoven into that are other elements but the interweaving more often than not detracted from, rather than enhanced, the guitar theme.  For example, in the preview track there is a background theme, runs from 1.16 to virtually the end with only small breaks, which becomes so dominant that I was screaming, “Stop!  I want to hear the other bits which are swamped by this oh so repetitive background!”   Frustration indeed.

I won’t listen to the album again – I have listened to the entire album three times – but I can appreciate the technical ability both of the guitar playing and the layering of sound.  Undoubtedly many will take to Matt’s music but I expect music to touch me or move me in some way.  This music left me untouched and in the same place I started.

Very much as the eponymous “Ghost” leaves no sign of his passing through a room, at the album’s end there was no sign that the music had been playing.


  1. A worthy and most interesting review. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen,

    Thanks again

  2. After sitting through all three movements of MacDuff's concerto for bagpipes, this sounds particularly good, Calum.

  3. Was there something about Fred's pipe music you didn't like, MTG?

    I'm pleased that you found Matt's music more to your liking although you might have found a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to be preferable to the pipes.