Review: Matt Elliott

Matt Elliott
“The Mess We Made”
(Merge Records)

Formerly known as The Third Eye Foundation, Matt Elliott records under his birth name for this album of multi-layered and distorted vocals with piano, somber organ washes, strings and occasional electronic glitches and programmed beats. It’s a mellow affair, but not an easily accessible one. Elliott challenges the listener from the start with “Let Us Break,” seven minutes of inaudible and muted vocal chants barely discernible from the dirgy church organs and orchestral strings.

The organic “The Dog Beneath the Skin,” starts off a spare piano ballad with Elliott’s funereal croon, sounding not terribly unlike fellow Brit Thom Yorke, before a sea of guitar feedback swallows the song. The title track of the album begins with the album’s prototypical sound but then gives briefly to a sputtering techno beat that leads into an ambient, chill out atmosphere with “Cotard’s Syndrome,” a elegiac soundscape harnessed with classical guitar pluckings.

“The Sinking Ship Song” is one more late night drunken singalong before falling into a haunting sleep, where carnival dwarves playing accordions guide you through uncomfortable dreams. It’s not a wholly frightening world Elliott creates, but it’s not quite a safe or sane world either. His music befits a David Lynch film. And much like that cinematic genius, Elliott requires a dozen listens before appreciation and comprehension set in.