# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Matt Elliott - Mess We Made

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 14 / 6 / 2003

Matt Elliott - Mess We Made
Label: Domino Records
Format: CD


Haunting, disorientating solo debut album from former Third Eye Foundation frontman, Matt Elliott, the Marilyn Manson of post-rock

Whenever an American high schooler flips and starts shooting up all the people who used to laugh at him in the playground, the angular shadow of Marilyn Manson is always in the picture by the time the news crews turn up. Supposedly leading kids astray through rock music and satanic rituals, he is the standard scapegoat for all kinds of evils dreamt up by concerned parents and cautious politicians. Should a similar tragedy befall a community of electronica fans (suppose a couple of pissed-off Autechre-heads got off their trolleys and decided to take their angst out on the crowd at a Sonar festival), Matt Elliott would be the man everybody wanted to talk to. For some years, Elliott made his music under the guide of the Third Eye Foundation, a sinister organisation devoted to disseminating ambient drum-and-bass tinged post-rock to a wide audience of misanthropes and disaffected elec-heads. He jacked it in two years ago with the spectacular (and spectacularly-titled) finale 'I Poopoo On Your Juju'. Since then he has apparently been devoting his time to horror stories, if his new album is anything to go by. The first of his works to be released under his own name, 'The Mess We Made' begins in familiar TEF fashion, with disembodied voices and ethereal pianos floating in and out of earshot. The first track, 'Let Us Break', is three minutes in before it comes together into a coherent rhythm, having consisted before that of Elliott’s cut up and disfigured vocals layered with the vague piano sounds. It works well in the manner of a classically-composed piece, where the listener is drawn in and experiences the crescendo before being slowly delivered back to normality by the end of the track. Much of the album works in the same way, sometimes with an abrupt mid-track change in tempo or style signalling a new turn in the maze of the Elliott-designed nightmare. Second track 'Also Ran' moves from TEF-esque mumblings about “haunt[ing] you in your sleep” to an almost funk Squarepusher beat after two minutes. The effect is disorienting and strangely soothing. 'The Mess We Made' is a collection of fragile pieces of music, to be handled with much care and listened to in an appropriate frame of mind, although night-time seems to do the trick. These are the fractured lullabies of a cracked mind, the songs with which Titus Andronicus or Iain Duncan Smith might send their kids to sleep. The lack of beats, at first unsettling, becomes deeply soothing after a while, and when they do put in an appearance, such as they do halfway through the title track, it is in a low-key way. The fast rhythm, which would have been at the forefront of the music on previous TEF releases, takes a back seat here, serving only to highlight the beauty of the balance of the instrumentation (which, deceptively, seems to consist of just a couple of distressed and distorted piano, brass and string sounds). 'The Sinking Ship Song' pitches us up in the middle of a storm on board a ghost-ship populated by drunken sailors who are, improbably, singing to Elliott’s tune. It’s a bizarre piece, the rowdy tone of which doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album (and which would be absurdly leftfield in any other context), but somehow the ghostly wailing just draws you further in without you noticing that you’re listening to some sort of post rock sea shanty. Like much instrumental music of this kind, however good it is, the tracks do tend to blend into one another. The effect of this is that after 45 minutes you are abruptly jolted from the dark dreams induced by the music, by a beautiful if relatively orthodox Spanish guitar. The closing track 'Forty Days' is the towering pinnacle of the whole enterprise, lulling us in with a simple guitar to begin with. It is only halfway through the track that Matt Elliott’s ulterior motives become apparent – it’s not just a guitar. The ethereal noises are all present and correct, hovering in the background as spirits are wont to do. Elliott works the whole ensemble together until by the end the combination of the mundane plucked strings and otherworldly noises – almost a reprise of some of the more haunting moments from the rest of the album – form a quite stunning climax to an album which is over all too soon.

Track Listing:-
1 Let Us Break
2 Also Ran
3 The Dog Beneath The Skin
4 The Mess We Made
5 Cotard's Syndrome
6 The Sinking Ship Song
7 End
8 Forty Day

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