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Stevens, Matt: Relic

Matt Stevens is a London-based guitarist who has recently released his third album Relic. Stevens is another artist I was unfamiliar with but after listening to this ground breaking album I cannot wait to hear his first two releases.

Unlike some artists, Stevens has embraced the internet and on-line communities with open arms offering Relic as a pay what you want download. It is an interesting way to market music and suffice to say warrants further discussion beyond the scope of this review.

On Relic Stevens plays guitar, bass and glockenspiel. He is a special guitarist of which he so ably demonstrates throughout these ten tracks. What makes this album so innovative is the way Stevens handles the acoustic guitar. Yes, this is an acoustic album but it is one of the most diverse records I have heard in a long time. Folk, metal, jazz, progressive rock, orchestral; it is all here for your enjoyment.

There are other musicians as well; Kevin Feazey (bass, programming, keyboards), Chrissie Caulfield (violin) and Stuart Marshall (drums). Not to take anything away from these fine musicians but it is Stevens who is the star of this show.

In the album opening "Nightbus", the unlikely combination of electronic beats and Stevens incredibly diverse acoustic playing mesh together seamlessly. In the Radiohead influenced title track heavy acoustic rhythms and delicate arpeggios build to crescendos before starting all over again. Back and forth it goes before Stevens delves into mellower Eastern flavourings.

Stevens demonstrates his diverse guitar playing in "Rusty" with tasty Spanish guitar stylings before the fast rhythms develop into a chord progression reminding me of Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Stevens completely had me off guard with the heavy "Frost", the album's only diversion into metal. The song transitions between metal and his more traditional playing.

The folky "Rushden Fair" is the complete opposite of "Frost", opting for gentle guitar rhythms and delicate picking. His layering of guitar is very effective.

The progressive "20 GOTO 10" is a much more intense offering with a disjointed guitar structures and shimmering guitar chords.

"Up" is a very catchy track with repeating rhythms and crisp guitar notes that are totally infectious. This one has a poppy feel reminding me slightly of Coldplay.

In "Sand Part 2" gorgeous acoustic work gives way to fractured guitar notes and cool, nightmarish effects giving this song a post rock feel.

There is not one bad song amongst the bunch as Relic is an absolute joy to listen to. Stevens is one of the most innovative players I have listened to lately, fully deserving of any progressive music fan's attention.

Track Listing:
1. Nightbus
2. Relic
3. Rusty
4. 20 GOTO 10
5. Rushden Fair
6. Up
7. Scapegoat
8. Sand Part 2
9. Frost
10. 30 END

Added: January 15th 2012
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 2034
Language: english

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