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Sieben – No Less Than All

My job is to intellectualize things that perhaps might not always be in need of intellectualization. For the most part, the Post-industrial underground has no shortage of geniuses, but not everyone expresses it in blatantly literal ways. Lisa Miralia struck a chord in me when she said that she sought out the Cleveland Noise scene because she felt that her pursuit of “something that would engage my intellect” was satiated by the efforts of those who make some of the most god-awful and yet enthralling sounds to be found anywhere. This is nothing like that, but is something that does take the literal path, its approach is cerebral yet also warm in a way. Truly music made by a gentleman with an understanding of the subtleties that can be achieved with modern musical tools.

The album can be pegged into a folk context, and it can so be called the folk of today’s UK because Matt Howden has that natural storyteller quality to him. I appreciate the conciseness of the promo package this came to me in. It was a great touch to add a few words on what inspired each track. There is also included in this promo package a set of photographs of Mr. Howden that gives the album more color. I somehow can’t seem to feel anything other than a feeling of a dim and cold morning drive. The song “No Ordinary Life” begs to differ from any philosophy that reinforces any application of the concept of a triviality of life, or even death: “London’s paved on a lake of blood, Moscow’s stones set in human mud. There is no ordinary life. With all there is, there can be no ordinary life”.

The title track though is superb. It comes after an album that displays a number of influences including Post-Punk, Neo-Folk, and sparks of Electronica, but this second to last track has a melancholic shuffle to it, and the interplay of the very serious bass-line with Matt’s fiddle gives an almost psychedelic tone. Then you get a sort of instrumental reprise of elements from the beginning of the album, “An enticement to play the album once more…” This man works just as hard on his image as he does on his music. I had seen many a crazy, mysterious, but also accessible men in photos online. Taking up the assignment of reviewing this work allowed me to understand these visuals more. Matt Howden is working on perpetuating his own mythos, and it looks to be working. We need more catskin with a slick edge in the world.

Rating: 4/5

Journalist Name: Rexington Steel
Artist: Sieben
Title: No Less Than All
Label: Redroom
Cat. # REDROOM008
Genre: Folk Rock/Neofolk

01 Music is light
02 Preacher online
03 I saw a face
04 Vonnegut
05 Transmission
06 Shake the tree
07 Black dog day
08 No ordinary life
09 He can delve in hearts
10 In a train
11 No less than all
12 Music is light, Part II (play me again)