Matchess – Seraphastra

As you can tell from the categories I’ve had to devise for these posts, I really don’t like categorizing things. I mean, there’s much about this album that mellows me out, but listen to the clanging guitar at the end of ‘The Need of the Greatest Wealth’ and you’ll agree that any future appearances on ‘Now That’s What I Call a cash cow Ambient LXCVII’ are pretty much ruled out.

Matchess is a one-woman band (Whitney Johnson), so I naturally have an affinity, particularly as it presses so many of my favourite buttons. It pulses, there’s drone and repetition and a lot of low end, and the atmosphere is singular. It’s almost as if Seraphastra is another world that Matchess has taken us to for the duration, a world which welcomes visitors but doesn’t pander to them (my favourite kind of world, in fact). Those of you who are/were familiar with a mid-90’s compilation album called Ambient Dub Vol II – Earthjuice (TommyNooka!) may understand why I’ve got the word ambient in the tags, even though this isn’t ‘ambient dub’ (whatever the bally hell that means). It’s psychedelic in the true meaning of the word, not the genre meaning of the word.

And as ever, it’s the songs which elevate this thing into the realm of great. Each piece is a self contained unit which functions beautifully within its own frame of reference but also contributes to the overall world of the album; they are truly Janus-like in that respect. Indeed, I think the album itself may perform a similar function. I think I’ve just had a germ of an idea for a macro-post.

This was all set to be on my best of 2014 list, and then I discover that it was first released only on cassette in 2013. Is it just me, or are year end lists becoming increasingly irrelevant? Maybe marketing people like them. I’m doing one anyway, but I shall do a ‘discovered in 2014’ list as well.

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