Debut album by Susan Matthews
Botanical Rite No.1
Blister Lip Mutation
Botanical Rite No.2 ‘Aural Effigy’
A Perfect Happiness
Botanical Rite No.3 ‘Shift 8vb’
Catalogue Number SW69, Siren Wire Recordings 2005
‘SirenWire69’ – Reviews
‘Nowadays, like everything else, ‘Industrial’ music has changed. The non-conformist attitude of its origins have all but disappeared, as have its ‘DIY’ aesthetic that guided the genre through the 80s. Now it’s a different game, it’s a genre of labels, professions packaging, money and a slick production values – which isn’t a bad thing per say but it’s certainly an evolutionary jump forward from its roots. Amidst all of this, if you dig a little deeper under the surface, you find that the ‘underground’ still really does have an ‘underground’. That there are still a few artists out there who have embraced the very nature of early industrial music, if not by sound then by it attitude and initial message it put forward. Step forward Susan Matthews. With the releases of her debut album Susan has clung onto the aesthetic of DIY industrial music by recording, mixing and self releasing her own CD on her own label. Influenced by her surroundings and ideas and concept of a more personal nature, Susan has created a abstract spectrum of avant-garde styling through the utilization of her skeletal vocals, piano, keyboards, toys, baby monitors and telephone answer machines to create track after track of truly experimental music in the true sense of the word. Taking her queue from the likes of Nurse with Wound, early Virgin Prunes, early Current 93 and, of course, Throbbing Gristle, Susan grafts together an album that holds a wonderful amount of intrigue and passion, in a very naive sense, that makes the flow and output diverse and interesting enough to keep you involved for the entirety of it. Fractured sounds and delicate played pianos are interspersed with improvised noises and childlike imagery to produce a complex and thought provoking energy that is dispersed through the flow of extremely diverse tracks the disk contains.
Whilst not being as straight forward as many releases in the post-industrial genre, Susan Matthew’s has stuck to her convictions to produce an album that holds the merits of ‘true industrial music’ wonderful. However this is somewhat of a risky move as her compositions aren’t instantly attainable. You don’t ‘get it’ with one listen. You have to work at them, immerse yourself in them, try to get to the bottom of what they are about and when you do, you know it was well worth the effort. For those of you who still crave for the avant-garde experimentations of ‘industrial- music’, then ‘SirenWire69’ could well be your siren song. Let it entice you in.’
Judas Kiss Magazine, Summer 2006
‘Susan Matthews is pictured as a pretty and introspective young lady on the cover of her new SirenWire69 CD. But this beautiful flower also makes the music of a troubled femme fatale. It’s a CD much like a horror movie soundtrack; one where you’re constantly expecting something bad to happen to somebody.
Matthews makes experimental music that is oftentimes based around unusual percussion elements. Occasionally, she’ll incorporate traditional instrumentation, such as piano. In fact, “A Perfect Happiness” is all piano and sounds almost happy — almost. When there are vocals, singing can sound tortured. One aptly named song, “Bruised Letter,” features little girl singing on it, as if it were a breathy, tearful lullaby. Few of these works have what can be termed traditional arrangements, however. “Aural Effigy” begins with a buzzing sound that gets louder and softer, louder and softer, and repeats as necessary. Yet it has what might be construed as a classical melody at its start, before a sort of industrial sawing sound enters in.
Even the titles of these tracks suggest pain. What else can be drawn from spooky names like “Blister Lip Mutation” and “Grieving Naid”? Furthermore, “Bruised Letter” reads like a suicide note.
Although Matthews is like a musical mad scientist at times, her chosen style is rarely offensive — the way, say, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music was for some. Hers is a quiet sort of pain, much of the time. This work is a specialized album, for a specialized listener. But if you enjoy your tea a bit on the bitter side, by all means try a sip soon.’
Dan MacIntosh Indie Music.com, August 2006
‘It isn’t surprising, given Susan’s background in ‘multi-media’ events and experimental composition, that this uncomfortable musical journey highlights human distraction, filtered through ambient intestines.
‘Hegemony’ is a deceptive opener, like a shaky nightmare with uncomfortable spoken phrases and noises off, so you can almost imagine a light swinging freely in a room splattered with ugly newspaper clippings, the light shifting from side to side, and yet as the programmed clips also swing along it’s catchy in its own ugly way. ‘Botanical Rite No. 1’ offers complete contrast with simple piano over an electrical buzz that starts to distort as the ghostly, disembodied keys idle. An exhausted, tremulous voice hesitates during the disturbing ‘Bruised Letter’ which works fine except for the unnecessary sounds of china. Less is always more in the world of experimentation because when you have an idea it will succeed regardless of the setting. The start is impressively weird, loses cohesion as plinking dominates, but then it pulls back sensibly to end strangely, leaving you none the wiser, but still held in place. ‘Dysphoria’ is all noisy brooding vibration which gathers pace and sounds rather sumptuous before we are reunited with a fully concentrated singing voice like the an unnaturally absorbed mental patient. Someone almost singing to themself. Piano in, then out. ‘Blister Lip Mutation’ again flickers lightly with distortion and piano musing seriously, with its simple swaying rhythm oddly attractive and ‘Botanical Rite No. 2 – Aural Effigy’ is more of the same really as this feeling builds. Consistently disquieting, weird ticking and breathing gets you worried, but ‘Black Plug’ seems comparatively insipid and irritating when concentrating on the words. The sounds seethe like maggots around the faintly ludicrous pronouncements until they suddenly stop. ‘A Perfect Happiness’ has more genteel piano, very plain and gently austere, with the same underlay for ‘Grieving Naid’ where someone speaking is seemingly agonising of what, the death of a child? Jangling piano ensures this is suitably human, not obtuse and the final ‘Botanical Rite No. 3 – Shift 8vb’ relies on weird slipping backwards sounds, vocal gauze, piano, noises, piano…..and then she lets go.
The problem with experimental music is just that. It’s an experiment, far closer to the composer than to anyone approaching it, so it’s all down to whether you’ll appreciate this being installed in your surrounds, but it’s a convincing mini-world, and that’s the main thing.’
Mick Mercer The Mick, Nov/Dec 2005