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Matt Elliott | The Mess We Made (Domino)
The press release that accompanies 'The Mess We Made' declares that this is a record for the "shittiest of shit times." In case you hadn't noticed, these are indeed shit times. And so, the perfect time for Matt Elliott's first release under his own name. Though the Third Eye Foundation moniker has been dragged outside kicking, and bludgeoned like a seal pup, it appears the sun still refuses to shine. For much is the darkness locked within the grooves of this album. In fact, 'The Mess We Made' pushes the darkness of Elliott's previous releases even further, to the point of implosion almost. The beats have been stripped right back, exposed only on a couple of the eight tracks, the density and intensity magnified throughout. At times, twisted vocals wrap themselves around a sorrowful piano like the ghost of Nico or David Sylvian, whilst a tired accordion moans drunkenly at the moon. As the wind blows and the bow creeks on The Sinking Ship Song it feels for a moment like you've stumbled onto the set of some eastern European play or a Svankmajer animation. This is serious, mum. This is the sound of the sky, bled of light and birds, of towers collapsed, cities toppled. This is music for the end of days. A lament for those left listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor! on headphones as the new Millennium approached, waiting for the apocalypse. Only it's not that bad. It's never that bad. For no matter how bleak it gets, it always manages to somehow transcend misery. There is no denying that 'The Mess We Made' is an immensely sad album, steeped in loss. It evokes an age-old melancholy, a timeless sadness, a universal weariness. And yet at the core of all its heartbreak, there is warmth and there is beauty. Fragile as cobwebs, but as intimate as a kiss. This is a genuinely exquisite collection of finely crafted, intricately constructed layers of sound. So OK, it probably won't be the feel-good hit of the summer and your granny would find it creepy. But what do you expect from an album with a track named after a condition where a person believes that their friends, family, the whole world, or even parts of their body do not exist or are about to not exist (Cotard's Syndrome)?

Graham Sefton
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003

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