The Whispering Void, Album, 2010

For Maegan



Susan Matthews
The Whispering Void

(Sirenwire Recordings SW90)

Susan lives just down the road from me. We’ve never met. If we did I’d thank her for all the fantastic music she’s passed my way. Thank her for avoiding the clichés and the boring fucking mediocrities that seem all prevailing in life these days. Thank her for making music that never fails to invigorate me and realise that in this cultural backwater there are true artists making music that speaks from and to the heart, soul AND mind.
I love Susan’s music. Buy it, try it, love it.

Ian Holloway, Wonderful Wooden Reasons, March 2011

void web small

Susan Matthews
The Whispering Void (Siren Wire Recordings)

This gives off a claustrophobic feel right from the very start, with electronic effects that make you want to look over your shoulder. The gentle piano piece has an accompaniment of hushed voices, occasional spoken French, and a background noise that can be disturbing, as it’s not unlike the sound of a furnace when the door is opened (I could almost see the heat haze from the yellow / orange glow). This mood persists into track two, with more spoken French, no piano, but the background is more akin to a ship’s engine, that thrumming sound you can hear when below deck.

“Piano For Roan” emerges from this treacle darkness, and we get a delicate but precise piece of music, a gentle interlude that would grace a Virginia Astley album. The following “Babycomeback” has the graceful piano again, but the disturbing electronics are back, a little more distant at times, and it’s almost from the barnyard, but a barnyard that you don’t want to be anywhere near, at anytime. And so it goes, this dark mood that’s sustained by repeating the trick throughout the proceedings.

It’s not a harsh or brash musical environment to be in, but the interludes without these backings are far more palatable than the songs that ooze unrest. So we next get a brisk but pleasant string arrangement on “The Moon Has Left Her Mark On Me”, which is bookended by “The Lie That Holds Up The Sky”, with over a minute of desultory noise, slowly building up, before the piano makes its appearance, and the background again threatens to crash and burn at any time. And yet, on this track, the piano somehow wins out, possibly by creating a mood all of its own, as if ignoring or perhaps not perceiving the ominous threat.

If this was a soundtrack for movie, we’d probably be name-checking Werner Herzog or David Lynch. Unsettling and portentous in the main, but when the strings and piano get their grip on things, it’s also a weird delight. If you’ve no desire to be a little scared, then some judicious programming of your CD player maybe in order, and by the time you get to “Dark Matter”, the closing track, despite the ever-present disturbance, the piano again succeeds in keeping the menace at bay.

All in all, a sheer pleasure trip for anyone from the dark-side, an occasional delight for us mortals who prefer the light.

Kev A,, October 2010

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