Matt Christensen – A Cradle In The Bowery (Vinyl)
It’s raining outside. The faint noise of the rain in the trees perfectly couches the moment I start listening to this album in melancholic anticipation…
The album, since you’re asking, is A Cradle In The Bowery, the first solo record from Chicago’s own, the brilliant, Zelienople; going under his given name, Matt Cristensen.
From the off, Matt provides exactly what you would hope he might with a gorgeous collection of songs akin to bathing in a pool of distilled reverb. The opener, ‘Someday I Won’t Matter’ is more tense and claustrophobic in tone than songs that follow but it’s quite a beginning and the tension created in the swelling strings as the track comes to a close is something well constructed indeed. ‘Drugged’ follows and it is a hazy mix of guitar and an organ whose bass wavers and vibrates which introduces a song that seems so familiar as to be an old friend or a traditional tune known to the listener since childhood. ‘Simple Lives Mean Nothing’ is a brooding piece that is reminiscent of Radiohead, if not for its sonic or timbral qualities but for the chord sequence therein. Following this is a song called “Daddy” in which Matt’s vocals are almost starved of the reverb that surrounds them in other songs giving a very intimate quality to the way he delivers this song. The picked guitar seems to conjure memories of early Arab Strap.
The second half of the album opens with a song titled ‘Already Found’ and the little touches of echo and reverberation throughout make this track the touching piece that it is, that and the pseudo-random nature of use of the guitar at the end of course. The track that follows is the stand-out track on the album, ‘Now You Have Won / I’m The One’. Again, soaked in reverb (spotting a theme here?) there is a gorgeous slide guitar and some subtle tambourine placed very low in the mix. Now You Have Won segues into what is assumably known as I’m The One; a beautiful layered soundscape and by a long way the most experimental and exciting part of the record complete with found sounds and crackles. Finally, the album ends with ‘Lazy Angel’, an epic, almost 8 minutes long, track entirely suitable to bring the work to a close.
The rain is still falling outside but my mood, previously melancholic, has improved somewhat.