Review – Matt Stevens – Archive – by Leo Trimming

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A few years ago an unlikely hero entered the rock music scene. Like some sort of Rock ‘El Mariachi’ Matt Stevens rode into town armed only with a guitar, a few effects pedals and most importantly a prodigious talent and imagination. ‘Have guitar, will travel’ was his trademark, travelling right across the country willing to play any club, pub and venue, supporting any and everyone. Unbounded by any labels and by any notions of conforming to musical norms Matt Stevens’ music crossed many boundaries, but did not seem to fit any – just the way he liked it.

Roaming the musical hinterlands he was free to take his own path. Occassionally, venue’s saloon doors would swing open and in would step the silhouette of a musical man mountain maestro with a guitar slung around his neck, here to take on all challengers with fast fingers, exciting music and engaging charm. Venue after venue and crowd after crowd succumbed to his talent, won over by his talent, enthusiasm and his unquenchable thirst just to perform.

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Well now, Matt ‘Mariachi’ Stevens is stepping back from his solo guitar days, having formed his own posse called ‘The Fierce and the Dead’ within which to express his impressive musical skills and imagination. ‘The Fierce and the Dead’ have been burning their own distinctive and unconventional path through modern music, turning up at contrasting music festivals such as ‘Summers End’ and ‘Arc Tangent’ and uncompromisingly blasting and riffing their way through the crowds, a few scattering to the bar but burning in to the hearts of many other unsuspecting punters.

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(Photo copyright the Chaos Engineers)

To mark his current ‘retirement’ from solo performing Matt Stevens is releasing ‘Archive’ on Bad Elephant Music. (Of course, it’s on Bad Elephant Music – a remarkably diverse label which specialises in an increasingly diverse range of unusual, quirky, uncompromising and high quality recordings.)

This set is NOT a retrospective drawn from Matt Stevens’ already released albums, ‘Echo’, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Relic’… that would have been too easy for this artist, who wanted to share a document of his live solo recordings. It is comprised of a live guitar and loop set recorded in a church for the Farncombe Music Club in 2014. (What a different experience in church that must have been!) Alongside those pieces Matt has included two ambient pieces (Intermission 1 & Intermission 2) and two ‘lost songs’. The marvellously named ‘Pecadillo’ was produced for a compilation released on the Believers Roast label of Kavius Torabi (Knifeworld) in 2012.  ‘Blue Filter’ is an out-take from the recordings of Matt’s 2010 album, ‘Ghost’.

What can someone unfamiliar expect from this album?

Well, one can expect to hear a bewildering array of sounds and textures somehow conjured up from just a guitar and some looper technology.

What may be harder to imagine is the kaleidoscope of sounds and feels that splash sonically out of his guitar, cascades of riffs and melodies interweaving and echoing in a captivating tapestry of noise. This reviewer is not usually taken with purely instrumental albums – it’s just usually not my cup of tea (or glass of tequila). However, Matt Stevens is not your usual purely instrumental artist and I am glad I imbibed in this intriguing offering.

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Opening track ‘Rusty’ (where does he get these names from?) immediately hits you with a torrent of riffs and echoes with intricate playing and sounds it does not seem possible to extract from just a guitar. As a manifesto for the album it certainly lets you know this is no ordinary musical ride. In contrast, later track ‘ A Boy’ is a much gentler acoustic glide which beguiles and shows that there is a range of musical colours described here. Amongst other highlights ‘Big Sky’ takes you right out there on the ‘Looper Plains’ as coruscating clouds of echoing lines scud across the musical firmament, before being gently brought down to earth and then once again in a psychedelic coda launched in to a reverb filled sky – at least that’s what I imagined… and all done by one guy and his guitar live!

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Reviews are peculiar things – one never knows quite in what direction it will go. Before I even started on this review, knowing a little about Matt and his music, I decided to use the ‘El Mariachi’ theme as it conveyed his singular and somewhat heroic musical path, and captured the idea of ‘a loner with his guitar’. What I had not expected to find was a song on the album that perfectly captures that imagery – the aforementioned ‘Blue Filter’ is pure spaghetti western, even with effects sounding uncannily like a horse trotting.

It is a perfect way to effectively finish the album as our Mariachi guitar maestro decides to hang up his solo guitar for the time being and strides off to continue exploring other musical horizons (and upsetting a few along the way!) with his posse. Maybe one day he will return to a venue or saloon near you with his guitar slung around his neck but for now listen to this and imagine his legendary live solo days.

Released 22nd July 2016 by Bad Elephant Music.

Pre-order ‘Archive’ from Bad Elephant Music on bandcamp

Pre-order ‘Archive’ from Burning Shed

Review – Lee Abraham – The Seasons Turn – By Leo Trimming

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The Seasons Turn, the latest impressive album by Lee Abraham, has the theme of the passing of time interweaved through the songs.

“There’s never such certainty in life, but that’s the game

Just watch the Seasons Turn, never with a sense of shame

Watch the Seasons Turn as another year goes by

Feel the winter chill as we long for summer’s high..”

These lines from the conclusion of the opening 24 minute epic title track led me to thinking about my own personal journey over the last few years following Lee Abraham’s music. It does not seem that long ago when I distinctly recall first hearing Lee’s music on the now sadly defunct ‘Rogues Gallery’ Podcast with Frans Keylard on The Dividing Line Broadcast Network in about 2009. Frans played the whole of the new album at that time ‘Black and White’ by the recently departed bass player with Galahad, a band I had heard of but had not yet explored.

I was absolutely blown away by the excellence of that album, particularly the closing suite of songs – Black (with ex-Big Big Train vocalist Sean Filkins on vocals) and White (with Steve Thorne on vocals.) I still think that music is some of the finest to come out of the resurgence of Progressive rock music since the turn of the new century, with the sparkling and emotional song White simply being one of my most favourite Prog rock tracks ever. It was remarkable to me that I had never heard of this artist and yet here he was releasing a stunningly good album.

‘Black and White’ received very positive reactions and certainly raised Lee Abraham’s profile above the level attained by his previous album ‘View from the Bridge’. I went back to that album and whilst it showed a lot of promise it had to be acknowledged that ‘Black and White’ was a considerable step up and put Abraham on a whole different level. He also involved a variety of renowned Prog musicians, including Jem Godfrey (Frost*), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Simon Godfrey (ex-Tinyfish, Shineback, Valdez) and John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Arena, Lonely Robot… etc, etc!),

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‘Black and White’ really touched me deeply. I remember having one of those ‘perfect moments’ with this album we sometimes get in life associated with a piece of music. It was later in 2010 and I had just spent a fantastic weekend with a group of great friends, whom all shared an interest in music. We had travelled to Liverpool to visit The Beatles sites around the city and have a few drinks at The Cavern Club… and elsewhere! We shared in great camaraderie and then all went our separate ways.

I was on the train home to Devon and was listening to the track White as the train travelled along right next to the sea between Exeter and Teignmouth. The sun was going down, shimmering beautifully on the sea and as I looked out of the train window I had a feeling of reverie. I felt such a sense of peace and contentment that I was returning home after a great time with my friends, back to my lovely family in the beauty of a place like Devon. I felt so fortunate. The beautiful closing words sung so delicately by Steve Thorne really stirred great emotion in me:

“My Memory has returned, I’m seeing Clear again,

I’ve got to go back to the start, I’m going to end it now and take control again

Black is dying out, it feels so good again, So now I close my eyes, to all the hate and lies

A World now open wide, where once a dream had died, No more in Black and White…”

I guess ‘you just had to be there’ as it’s hard to explain that personal moment, but that’s what Lee Abraham’s music meant to me at that specific ‘perfect moment’, and it’s a much cherished memory which comes back to me every time I hear that brilliant song.

I was fortunate enough to see the Lee Abraham Band, including Sean Filkins on vocals, perform most of that album at the one-off ‘Winter’s End Festival’ in Stroud in 2010 – he was one of the main reasons I attended that event.  This may well be the only ever live performance of Lee’s solo progressive rock material so far, and Lee and his band certainly put on an accomplished show.

Sadly, the economics of such shows and fitting such activities in to ‘real life’ make such performances difficult to arrange and sustain. It is to be hoped that as Lee Abraham’s profile continues to rise with the continuing quality of his albums this may make it easier to countenance a return to the stage for the Lee Abraham Band in future, which Lee recently hinted at in a recent interview may be a possibility.

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Lee Abraham next came to my notice on ‘War and Peace and other Short stories’, the 2011 album by Sean Filkins. Yet again this was a real surprise to me as I had yet to really delve in to the world of Big Big Train at that point so Sean was not known to me. Once again Frans Keylard’s Rogue’s Gallery podcast can be thanked for introducing that previously unknown album and artist to me. (Prior to ‘Progzilla Radio’ these days, finding new Prog was reliant on such podcasts, including The Amazing Wilf’s ‘The European Perspective’ by ‘Prog Guru’, David Elliott).

Sean Filkins’ debut release was an utterly outstanding album of consummate musical skill and epic Progresssive rock song writing, which Lee Abraham produced excellently and contributed to musically. This again is another very special album for me personally, and it’s sonic brilliance owes much to Lee’s skills as a producer in the studio. It is to be hoped that Sean will one day feel able to follow up that modern Prog masterpiece, maybe with Lee’s help again? Who knows what will happen as the seasons turn and time passes?

Despite the positive reactions to ‘Black and White’ it would be another 5 years until Lee Abraham released his own follow up album ‘Distant Days’ in 2014. A lot can happen in 5 years and this was an angrier album, partly borne out of the turmoil of the economic problems in the intervening years. It was also an album in which the passing of time featured as a theme in the songs, particularly the epic closing song ‘Tomorrow will be Yesterday’ with Steve Thorne on great vocals yet again:

“The rest of time is on our side, I hope deep down you know,

Let’s make tomorrow yesterday, and never let it go….”

Life for me had also changed, including the loss of a parent and all that entails emotionally as one adapts to loss and a growing realisation that time stands still for no-one. Excellent though it is as an album, ‘Distant Days’ did not have quite the same impact for me as ‘Black and White’.

Sometimes such preferences are simply down to where we are personally and emotionally when we hear an album, and how attuned we may be to the message or feel the artist is trying to convey. However, it is interesting to note that Lee Abraham in an interview recently rated ‘Black and White’ alongside his new album as his favourites, which may indicate that he recognizes there was something special about that particular album.

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The title track on Lee Abraham‘s new release, The Seasons Turn, continues in the vein of the epic grandeur of Black and White , opening with a  delicate piano motif from Rob Arnold leading to rising keyboards and then the rest of the band powerfully joining in like some sort of Prog overture before returning to the piano. The mellotron like keyboards drench the piece in atmosphere again before the band launch in to the heart of the song, driven along by Gerald Mulligan’s skilful drumming. Mulligan has been a stalwart band member with Lee Abraham for years, alongside the other talented core band members Christopher Harrison (guitars), Alistair Begg (Bass) and the aforementioned Rob Arnold, assembled for the previous album ‘Distant Days’.

They drive this epic song along with a balance of power and beautiful melody, but the master stroke by Lee Abraham for this epic piece was in asking Marc Atkinson (Riversea / ex-Nine Stones Close) to put his fantastic voice on this piece. Atkinson has probably one of the finest and most engaging voices in recent Progressive rock, as evidenced on the debut Riversea album ‘Out of an Ancient World’  (2012) and the two Nine Stones Close albuma upon which he sang, especially the classic ‘Traces’ (2010). His voice perfectly evokes the contrasting senses of wistful elegy and heroic defiance. Martin Orford (ex-IQ & Jadis), a mentor figure for Lee Abraham from his early days, comes out of his musical retirement briefly to add  a lovely but all too short flute interlude in the middle section.

This is a piece marked by soaring and stirring stellar guitar solos (presumably by Simon Nixon and Christopher Harrison), particularly in the closing section. This is quite an opening piece, which Lee stated did not start out as an epic piece but evolved over time. Lee Abraham has admitted that lyric writing is ‘the hardest bit’ and it perhaps shows in this lengthy piece, which may have needed rather more substance lyrically in my view. Nevertheless, that quibble is easy to forgive as you are seduced by the excellent, stirring music and overall epic sweep of this piece.

In contrast to the opening track, Live for Today is a much more straightforward rock number, featuring Dec Burke on powerful vocals and distinctive guitar work, and continues the theme of time passing and living for the moment. Marc Atkinson returns on vocals for the hauntingly beautiful Harbour Lights, which once again is perfect for his marvellous voice. Rob Arnold shines on piano again in this evocative piece. Lee Abraham lives by the sea on the South coast of England, and is perhaps inspired by the ocean in this shimmering piece, filled with hope:

“The Night is growing weaker, I see the Sun ahead

The Harbour Lights are dying, they’ve shown the Road ahead for me..”

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The shortest and lightest song on the album, Say Your Name Aloud, surprisingly finds Mark Colton of Prog Rock band Credo very engagingly singing what can only be described as a pop song, showing his versatility as a vocalist. It’s a nice contrast to the more portentous songs on the album.

The eerie, Floydian sound effects in the opening of the album closer The Unknown returns us to epic prog rock territory with Simon Godfrey singing with great feeling. This is a much darker piece with echoes of Porcupine Tree in places. David Vear adds in a surprising saxophone later in the song, which helps give this song a different atmosphere, but once again, it is Lee Abraham and Christopher Harrison’s guitars that take centre stage. A rather curious and seemingly almost endless 3 minute fade out tone closes the album. Perhaps it symbolizes the imagery in the closing lyrics of journeying endlessly into the Unknown :

“The Road to Freedom is all that keeps us Sane, The Miles go on and all we need is a Home

Will this never end the Path to the Unknown..”

I am not entirely sure what the song means, but having recently experienced great personal loss as a listener I draw some comfort from these words and this music. The beautiful artwork on this album by Paul Tippett shows a landscape experiencing all four seasons in one scene. Over the last few years I have also experienced the bloom of summer in a ‘perfect moment’, the autumnal decline of loved ones and the cold death of winter. For me it feels like it’s time for Spring again as reflected in Lee Abraham’s words:

“The Promise of Hope, the Promise of Freedom will be shown…”

Music is subjective and is filtered through all our own feelings and circumstances. Do I like this as much as ‘Black and White’ ? – probably not, but that may have more to do with my internal feelings rather than musical quality. ‘The Seasons Turn’ is undoubtedly another very fine album for Lee Abraham. We all read what we will into music, but it takes evocative and beautifully played music upon which to cast our thoughts and feelings. Lee’s music has provided some meaningful moments for me in recent years, and this excellent album continues that journey. Thanks.

Released 25th April 2016

Buy ‘The Seasons Turn’ from Lee’s Online Store

Review – Nine Stones Close – Leaves – by Leo Trimming

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The band Nine Stones Close is named after the remains of an ancient stone circle (see the featured image) situated in the Peak District of Northern England near where Adrian Jones grew up as a child. The origins of the monument’s name and their history are shrouded in mystery. Aptly, Adrian Jones is also the rock upon which Nine Stones Close has been built since 2008, starting as a solo studio project with St.Lo and later developing into a band with the excellent albums ‘Traces’ (2010) and ‘One Eye on the Sunrise’ (2012). ‘Leaves’ is their latest album and demonstrates Jones’ ongoing commitment to excellence and progression in his music, alongside significant changes in the band line-up. It is also true to say that like the stone circle Jones also likes to retain some mystery, leaving his music and lyrics open to interpretation by the listener.

Leaves as images or as metaphors are well used devices in poetry and music, possibly symbolizing beauty and growth but also death, change and rebirth – richly coloured Autumnal leaves beautifully carpeting forest floors, giving way to new shoots and leaves in Spring. Perhaps such imagery could be applied to Nine Stones Close as they release their new album this spring. They blossomed previously to great effect on ‘Traces’ and ‘One Eye on the Sunrise’, particularly helped by the remarkable keyboard skills of Brendan Eyre and captivating vocals of Marc Atkinson (both of Riversea, whom have their own album out later this year). Eyre and Atkinson have now left the band amicably to concentrate on their own projects to be replaced by keyboardist Christian Bruin (of Sky Architect) and Adrian ‘Aio’ O’Shaughnessy on vocals.

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Previous fans of Nine Stones Close may need some time to adjust to the new direction of the band. Jones is clear that he never stands still musically. He has stated : ‘The three previous albums are all very different from each other. The new singer is an element of that new sound…’. Nevertheless, it is fair to say fans of Atkinson’s voice may need to adjust to the different style of Adrian O’Shaughnessy. This reviewer did need some time to put aside his love of Atkinson’s voice and appreciate how Aio’s very different voice really suited the new music being produced by Nine Stones Close. Such an open minded approach is richly rewarded as the musical vistas and darker lyrical landscapes conjured up on this album open up fascinatingly with Aio’s versatile and powerful voice illustrating the different texture and feel of the music perfectly.

Relatively short song Complicated opens the album with a shimmering keyboard theme giving way to a sinister beat and menacing voice, rising to a throbbing, growling guitar, underpinned by Peter Groen’s dextrous bass. Those unprepared for the change in Nine Stones Close will certainly be saying ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!’ Nevertheless, dear listener, stay on board because the ride will get much stranger and darker yet, with a set of characteristically extended songs in which Adrian Jones and band takes you on a psychedelic journey, starting with the very peculiar but enthralling Goldfish. Jones ambiguously describes Goldfish as: hopefully some might think it is about a new world sociopath and others might think it is about …. something else …’. Bruin’s keys float us into this strange odyssey  and we hear a much more subtle side of Aio’s vocals as he intones ‘Conscience has died’. Interestingly, Jones bravely holds the musical tension with restraint. Aio plaintively sings ‘Welcome to my Life’ before Jones’ guitar soars to a crescendo before the piece recedes into a bleak, desolate drone. What’s it about? I have some sort of sense of it, but I honestly don’t really know – but it’s intriguing stuff, and I don’t really care that I don’t fully understand it – that’s half the fascination!

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Adrian Jones has said of Lie, the next song on the album, ‘that’s a bit of a beast and my personal favourite’, which is understandable as it is an outstanding piece, opening with swaggering instrumental menace. Aio’s versatile vocal swings between sinister but quiet, over a section of chopped chunky riffs reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, to powerful full throated rock howling. Then from left field Adrian Jones throws in a dissonant guitar section, presumably indicating the dislocating and undermining effect of mendacity (Lies), which is one of the underlying themes of the album. The momentum increases as guitars spiral around the central crunching drums and bass, with Bruin interweaving subtle keyboards. This fascinating and unpredictable song develops further as violinist, Annelise Rijk, and cello player, Ruben van Kruistrum, in multiple parts build and build the intensity with Adrian Jones guitars stratospherically swooping around the central theme. For fans who liked the remarkable  and epic Frozen Moment on the previous album ‘One Eye on the Sunrise’  will find this familiar but more sinister territory, musically. This was the song which reassured this reviewer that, whilst Nine Stones Close have changed, they have not lost that quality to create rich musical landscapes suffused with a sense of the dramatic and psychedelic.

To underline that point Spoils opens with subtle understated menace with Aio practically purring the vocals before the song erupts and then settles in to ‘Kashmir’ like progression as Aio roars in Robert Plant-esque power, although this band are no Zeppelin copyists! Once again, Nine Stones Close take an unexpected turn as this piece drifts away in to a dream like interlude as Aio sings ‘I’m living a Dream’ with acoustic guitar and then subtle electric guitar playing over an atmospheric and eerie keyboard backing. This bewildering but captivating song then erupts again before once again descending into another dream-like fugue – ‘The Dream I’m Living’ floats over the music, and then the whole band really lets loose with a volcanic finale in which Pieter Van Hoorn particularly shines with some explosive drumming. Part dream, part nightmare Spoils is a remarkable song which has grown and grown on this reviewer – repeated listens gradually unpeel the layers of this song, like all the best progressive pieces.

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Titles track Leaves concludes the album and, once again, Nine Stones Close take a left turn. Having adjusted to the more powerful direction of much of this album the listener is then confronted with with a largely very restrained, subtle and eerie song which seems tailor made for Aio’s versatile voice. Van Hoorn shows that drumming is not all about pounding away as his imaginative percussive touches play around the theme and vocals. Jones conjures unnerving and weird sounds from his guitar to punctuate this unsettling landscape, before introducing some Floyd like sweeping guitar lines with Aio crying ‘Have you ever lived your life, Have you ever really lived your life?’ as the song builds in impressive intensity. However, just when you think Nine Stones are going for the possibly clichéd barnstorming finale they fade into a wistful ending with Bruin’s piano beautifully and elegaically bringing us to the end of this journey. Whilst this is not a concept album Adrian Jones has described ‘Leaves’ as  having a theme  of ‘what we are doing to the world we live in and to ourselves’. That definitely comes over in the final track of this very fine album.

Progressive music fans can be remarkably conservative at times, which does sound contradictory to the concept of progression. Bruce Soord of The Pineapple Thief once said words to the effect that he expects to lose old fans with every album because some find it difficult accepting that he is progressing in his music, but that with every new album he gains new fans who appreciate his new direction. That is inevitable for any band like Nine Stones Close who do not stick to their old formula and want to progress. My advice is stick with these guys because you are never quite sure in which direction their songs or this albums may turn, but it sure is an imaginative and fascinating ride!

Released 13th May 2016.

Buy ‘Leaves’ from bandcamp

 

 

 

 

Review – Matthew Parmenter – All Our Yesterdays – by Leo Trimming

This review is dedicated to Jean Trimming R.I.P

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Matthew Parmenter, the charismatic front man of Discipline, has released his impressive third solo album, imbued with emotion and narrative skill. This album marks his first release with Bad Elephant Music, following on from their ‘fire alarm meeting’ outside the Summer’s End Festival in 2015. The dramatic impact of Parmenter’s stunning show with Discipline at that event led to a great social media comment that the most memorable sound of the whole weekend was the sound of so many jaws hitting the floor in amazement at his performance. However, this solo album shows a very different side of Matthew Parmenter.

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Scheherazade was the wife in ‘One Thousand and One Night’s’ who had to tell stories that would keep her husband on tenterhooks until the next night instead of executing her. It is appropriate that Parmenter opens the album with a fascinating song about this story teller, ‘weaving stories into stories’, grabbing one’s attention immediately with a high alto voice intro, akin to Antony Heggarty. Parmenter is filled with stories and poetry which he pours into this work. For the title track he uses probably one of the most famous soliloquies from the greatest story teller of them all, Shakespeare, drawn from Macbeth Act 5, scene 5:

‘… And all our Yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death, out, out brief candle’

Some may question the wisdom of tackling the Bard in this way but Parmenter has the poise and skill to capture the despair of this speech without overpowering it, and his voice is perfectly suited to conveying the presence of a Shakespearean tragic hero. Much of this work is pervaded with a sense of melancholy, particularly in the finale Hey for the Dance and, particularly, I am a Shadow, which perfectly frames Parmenter’s voice as a finely crafted instrument in itself, conveying Bowie-esque delicate agony. Favourable comparisons with Peter Hammill of Van Der Graaf Generator are inevitable, and this seems most clear in the vocal stylings and lyrical approach taken on Hey for the Dance and All for Nothing, accompanied with an appropriately bleak violin and organ. It is no coincidence that All Our Yesterdays with it’s the Shakespearean themes follows – we are clearly  walking in the ominous presence of tragic heroes.

However, Parmenter shows he has a lighter almost jaunty side as Stuff in the Bag rolls along in fine style, ‘taking a holiday from consciousness’, reminiscent of the jaunty asides from King Lear’s Fool. This is not an album full of all pervading darkness as Parmenter’s punctuates the album with moments of relief, such as the short delightful instrumental Danse du Ventre, moving in to the fine song of conflict feelings evoked in Digital.

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Previously in reviews I have tried to be ‘objective’, but that is all an illusion as ALL reviews are subjective, filtered through all of our individual thoughts, feelings and experiences. Some records will mean more for different reasons, and the feelings conveyed may affect us in unexpected ways. Similarly, the actions of the artist may impact upon us. With that in mind, the song, Inside, really connected with me, and I know that one small unheralded action by this artist had a positive effect upon me at a difficult time, which I think says a lot about him as a person as well as an artist. Please forgive the personal angle at this point but this is essential for me to convey the meaning of this song and album to me.

Matthew - Sam Holt

After seeing Discipline in October at Summers End 2015 I bought 2 Discipline albums at the festival. Later I found that a CD booklet was missing, and unfortunately the vendor could not help as they had sold out. I forgot about this for a while as other things of more importance were happening in my life. In December sadly my Mother passed away quite suddenly, which devastated me. In my grief I looked for slight distractions and recalled the missing CD booklet. I decided to e-mail the record company in America to explain the omission, and to my surprise I got a very swift reply back directly from Matthew Parmenter, promising to send the missing booklet. I replied that I was impressed with his speedy and helpful reply, remarking in passing that it was nice to have such a positive response as my mother had just died. Just after New Year’s Day a package arrived from America and not only was there the missing CD booklet, but also a complimentary copy of a Discipline album! There was no note but so much had been said by that thoughtful and compassionate action. I am also pretty certain Matthew would have had no idea I do occasional reviews – this was a simple moment of generosity, reaching out to someone in sadness.

Fast forward a few weeks to my first listening of Matthew’s new album and I get to hear the wonderful song Inside with the powerful refrain:

“You May Be Lonesome and Uncertain, I may be Feeling I’m Alone, We May Find Comfort in this Moment here – Inside…”

I probably do not need to tell you how that song hit me as I drove along listening to it for the first time. It’s a wonderfully understated song with sensitive vocals and atmospheric organ as the song builds in restrained power and emotion.

Discipline - Graham Stead

Matthew Parmenter has stepped aside from the magnificent, gothic group dynamic of Discipline to create a solo work of art suffused with dramatic shades and emotional lyricism, conveying tragedy and hope. This is an album that is likely to captivate and beguile with subtlety and delicate emotion. It certainly gave me unexpected comfort – Inside.

Released 11th March 2016

Buy ‘All Our Yesterdays’, on digital and CD, from Bad Elephant Music

All live photography thanks to Sam Holt.

All other photography, much thanks go to Graham Stead.

This review is dedicated to Jean Trimming R.I.P.