Origine du Groupe : U.K
Style : Experimental , Dark Folk
Sortie : 2012
By Nick Neyland from http://pitchfork.com
The career of Matt Elliott feels like it's been conducted in a peculiar half-light. The Bristol expat doesn't appear to care too much for exposure, quietly releasing album after album either as a progenitor of the kind of dusky soundscapes dubstep would come to inhabit under his Third Eye Foundation guise, or turning to the mopey ruin of the folk-tinged work under his own name. The Broken Man is his latest stab at the latter, a rigidly austere set of seven songs enveloped in blood, sorrow, and torment. At times it feels like Elliott made it after falling flat on the studio floor, face down, choking on dust and bitter rumination. But these aren't "small" songs; this is an all-encompassing misery, grandiose in its own way, with great rushes of strings and doomy multi-tracked vocal hums zooming into the frame to pull Elliott up by his bootstraps. On the lengthy "Oh How We Fell", there's even the clang of an ominous church bell, acting as a wonderfully dramatic portent of changes in mood and focus.
Elliott has sunk down to this place before, on equally remorseful work such as the appropriately titled Drinking Songs from 2005. The touchstones here are similar. When he lets his pangs of grief flush out on lengthy tracks such as "If Anyone Tells Me 'It's Better to Have Loved and Lost Than to Never Have Loved at All' I Will Stab Them in the Face", it's reminiscent of the sweeping mixture of guts and grief that make up Dirty Three's stylistic métier. Like that band's music, there's a ruptured form of beauty here too, and it's one that takes a great deal of care and consideration to uncover. The standout "Dust, Flesh and Bones" takes numerous plays to really get to grips with its one-part Leonard Cohen-esque lament, one-part lawless-border-town feel. These songs are cloaked in darkness on initial plays, with Elliott building an impenetrable wall around them, only to remove it brick by brick over time.
It's a combination of his meticulous attention to detail and a knack for knowing how to let song structures softly contract into new shapes that makes it work. The joins don't show when "This Is For" turns from a quietly picked acoustic folk number into a stridently thumbed Spanish guitar piece. Elliott takes that initiative and picks it up again in the following song, "The Pain That's Yet to Come", matching the same guitar style to a backdrop of Caligulan cries and moans and great rushes of noise, providing a neat conceptual loop back to similar work earlier in the album. At times there's a mixture of the pit-of-despair weight of Townes van Zandt's best tracks and the light/dark dynamic the most recent incarnation of Swans is so immersed in. The close of "Oh How We Fell", where filmy acoustic work falls into a deep well of gravely sighs and operatic trills, feels like the world turning upside-down following a swift kick to the feet of Elliott's barstool.
The Broken Man is a brawny, robust album, the type of record that carries an uncommon weight and honesty. When Elliott darkly intones, "this is how it feels to be alone," on "Dust, Flesh and Bones", there's complete conviction in his dead-eyed delivery, conveying an unwavering faith in his emotional regression. In lesser hands it's a line that could read as trite; with Elliott it feels well-worn, as though it's been churning around his head for years, gathering emotional baggage with the passing of time. But this isn't just a highly crafted plummet to the depths. There's an eerie, unearthly sense of displacement to much of the material, such as the spindly cries of bowed saw (or something simulating the sound of one) on "How to Kill a Rose". Those atmospheric touches make this feel like Elliott's most complete work to date, forming a vital link between his sunless balladry and the shattered electronica of Third Eye Foundation.
01 – Oh How We Fell
02 – Please Please Please
03 – Dust Flesh And Bones
04 – How To Kill A Rose
05 – If Anyone Tells Me ”It’s Better To Have Loved And Lost Than To Never Have Loved At Al”, I Will Stab Them The Face
06 – This Is For
07 – The Pain That’s Yet To Come