Susan Matthews

Brutal Fractures - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
Brutal Fractures

Here we have more music by Susan Matthews of which I reviewed ‘From Veliko’ in Vital Weekly 1043 as the most recent release from her. On her first release she played pieces by Erik Satie (Vital Weekly 810) and a bit of piano is also part of this new release. On her new release she is inspired by “Brutalist Monuments: concrete snapshots that capture a significant moment in history. It also represents the fracturing of the human psyche in response to trauma. Concrete, like the psyche, wears, weathers and erodes” and she makes this audible with the use of piano, voice, percussion, field recordings, Yamaha PSS-480 Keyboard, toys and electronics, with Mark Ingram supplying bass guitar. It’s not that I recognized all of these instruments I must admit, but the main theme, which is ‘erosion’ so I believe is certainly something I think to hear in this music. It is one long piece, of twenty-two minutes and starts out with some far away, low humming synthesizer, which eventually slowly fades over in percussive sounds, light and unorganised. Following a very soft voice and drum sounds the next lengthy bit is more coherent eroded piece of percussion and synthesizer, with the whole end bit, the last six minutes a heavily amplified bass guitar and no doubt some extra treatments. Piano I noted was only at the very end of this. An excellent, well thought out piece of music, which again was a bit too short for my taste.
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly Issue 1095, August 2017




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Susan Matthews
Brutal Fractures

Susan Matthews steps away from her own Sirenwire label for Brutal Fractures, releasing through Andrew Paine’s Sonic Oyster Records. A single 23 minute long avantgarde piece reflecting on brutalist monuments and the human psyche and their common traits. Sometimes atonal and abstracts, made up of a lot of found sound, switching into archival music and heavy drones. Tiny edition of 50 CDRs.

This toy instrument drone sees Susan Matthews release on Andrew Paine’s Sonic Oyster label, taking a brief sabbatical from her postcard avant-garde label Siren Wire, which recently offered the compacted and claustrophobic meditations of ‘From Veliko’. Here, Matthews focuses her ambience on brutalist monuments and their displacement from history -- it speaks to their place in time as well as their inevitable place lodged our present.

Ambient artist Chihei Hatekayama recently dug up a little quote from Goethe comparing music to architecture, and it has its place here: he said that “Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music.” It’s this kind of thinking that seems present in Matthews’ music, which describes brutalism through both stasis and movement. Matthews keeps a solid tone brooding through the backdrop of this piece, but implements rattling percussion, sludgy beats and half-lost voices, creating a feeling of human disorientation around and inside the rigid monuments.

Matthews herself compares these concrete structures to “the psyche”, suggesting that its permanence is changed by everything around it. Hearing many of these rumbling, resonant sounds, you can imagine voices coming from within these buildings, or heavy percussive climaxes as dissolving forces on a once pristine object. This twenty-three minute slab of ambient rubble not only focuses on these structures -- it also processes their decay.
8/10 Robin Staff review, Norman Records, 06 July 2017

From Veliko - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
From Veliko

Welcome return to these pages of Susan Matthews, the fey musician from South Wales from whom we haven’t heard since A Kiss For The Umbrella Man, her highly personal take on the music of Erik Satie, noted in 2012. Her record From Veliko (SIREN WIRE RECORDINGS SW108) is a shortish work, just three tracks in 14 minutes, but it’s a very heartfelt statement. Piano, keyboards, voice and field recordings are used to create a spell-binding mix of songs, tunes, mood pieces, and poetic observations, and the theme is highly emotionally charged. Part of it is derived from an actual trip to Veliko Tarnovo, and the artist’s take on wandering around this beautiful medieval city. She was particularly struck by the hanging houses, which are poised on the edge of a gorge above the Yantra river and in imminent danger of falling into the water, if they haven’t already done so. Crumbling foundations, ancient buildings, clinging onto a precipice – it doesn’t require much imagination to apply these elements to the human condition, and realise how close we all are to tipping over into melancholy, despair, or even madness. Matthews also alludes to “a metaphor for a psychological journey from the darkness of depression back towards the light”, a highly personal revelation, and one which takes some fortitude to admit to and deal with. If Susan Matthews is working out her personal problems through music, she has succeeded admirably with this understated yet highly cathartic music; I defy anyone to hear her fragile voicings and subdued but intense piano work on this record without being deeply moved.
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 20th May, 2017




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Susan Matthews
From Veliko

Welsh musician Susan Matthews has been recording and releasing essential and experimental works of wonder and dark beauty for over a decade now. Deeply atmospheric and evocative mood pieces, Matthews’ work is almost unclassifiable and often otherworldly yet equally seems to hinge on and tap into something deeply human, something familiar and recognisable. ‘Before I Was Invisible’, her recent collaboration with Rainier Lericolais on the Wild Silence label was a quiet gemstone of an album. 'From Veliko' is a similar subdued but powerful treasure, inspired by recent visit to Veliko Tarnovo (the medieval capital of Bulgaria); Matthews recounts “most days I wandered to The Monument Of The Assens. I sat and contemplated the old town across the Yantra river, where the ‘hanging houses’ cling precariously to the steep hillside, some are literally crumbling and sliding towards the river below. This seeming fragility is reflected in both the music & lyrics I composed for this project ‘The Road From Veliko’ is also a metaphor for a psychological journey - from the darkness of depression back towards the light.”

Beginning with the piano hymnal of 'The Road from Veliko (Part One)', we are immediately drawn into a world of shadows, of reverberated, descending notes and backwards voices and tapes. Both paradoxically calming and unsettling, the sheer impact of the piece is evidenced by the hold it has on the listener; the outside world ceases and the music becomes all there is. This is no ambient, background work; these tracks are entirely immersive and demand your full attention and involvement. Matthews' fragile voice recounts 'these things they are inside me, inside my dreams and in my mind…' as the piano gradually stops, leaving her alone observing 'the darkness descends...descends'. It is a heart stopping moment. 'A Room Of Lights' follows, a processional organ piece framing Matthews' text as she recounts her travels and the transformational effects that they have upon her. There is almost something sacred about this work, it feels like a surrender to something bigger, some supernatural experience that can only be conjured in hushed, solemn terms. The piece is also a work of great beauty and stillness, one can easily imagine that those who love the music of such contemporaries as Richard Skelton, Michael Begg and James Leyland Kirby will find much to admire here. The EP/mini album finishes with the vast, cavernous dronescape of ‘St Paul In The Yantra', an echoing chamber piece of spoken word vocals and wintry waves of strings, combining to hugely evocative and moving effect.

You almost have to draw breath after the album finished, this listener suddenly realised that he had been holding his, hanging on every note. There is genuine power held in these songs, quiet and drifting as they are; they have an intensity that is bewitching and all encompassing. This is music for the liminal hours, for dawn or dusk, for candlelight. Highly recommended, this album deserves your close attention
Grey Malkin, Tha Active Listener, 5th October 2016




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Susan Matthews
From Veliko

Veliko Tarnovo, to be precise, is a city in Bulgaria that once stood as its capital -- way back in the days of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Like many sound artists, Susan Matthews’ visit procured an audio postcard, now a CD, mostly of impressions upon viewing the city’s intersection of nature and infrastructure. See that front cover? Those “hanging houses”, as they’re termed, might serve as a fitting metaphor for Matthews’ music, which is balladic but also tenuous, offering a creaking fragility amongst its slight textures.

While it starts on the sort of crumbling piano composition Grouper might have made circa ‘Ruins’, these three tracks all feel distinct, with “A Room of Lights” offering a downbeat song in the vein of Mount Eerie -- a cracked and desperate vocal atop a dinky keyboard preset that feels both homely and homesick. “St Paul In The Yantra” is a foggier, more traditional drone piece, covering over the city it’s tributing with a thick layer of cloud. Think Siavash Amini on this tune: a slow-moving but deeply affectionate sound. A good set.
7/10 Stars
Robin, Norman Records, August 2016




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Susan Matthews
From Veliko

Depuis SirenWire69 l’an passé, continuation directe du fantasmagorique Tales From The Forbidden Garden de 2012 avec ses comptines hantées sur fond d’atmosphères oppressantes aux confins de l’ambient industrielle et d’un modern classical malmené, Susan Matthews a mis la pédale douce sur les triturations analogiques, privilégiant format court et piano pour un résultat non moins fantomatique.

Il y avait donc eu le beau Tidal Limbs en décembre dernier, entre discrets élans de romantisme tourmenté et tendance persistante à la neurasthénie plombée, puis en janvier ce Lost Sorrows, fidèle au goût assumé de la Galloise pour une lo-fi résolument fruste, saturations d’enregistreurs antédiluviens (Blistered Sunlight et son evil twin noisy Blistered Moonlight), boucle d’harmonies lancinantes (On A Theme Of Falling) et autres distos crépitantes de purgatoire dark ambient (A Passionate Hush) venant parasiter les pianotages mélancoliques de ces compositions ultra-minimalistes et suant le mal-être, lynchiennes jusque dans leurs passages les plus clairs et abstraits (le linceul d’orgue diaphane de My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth)

Quant au petit dernier From Veliko, sorti cet été à l’occasion du "Netlabel Day" sur la micro-structure anglaise Pilot Eleven, il s’inspire d’une visite de la capitale médiévale bulgare Veliko Tarnovo et en particulier de la vue d’une vieille ville désormais précaire depuis le monument aux Assens, dédié aux rois des heures de gloire du XIIIe siècle. Une allégorie de la déliquescence qui se fait également métaphore d’une quête de stabilité psychologique, les lugubres accords majeurs nappés d’oscillations désincarnées de The Road For Veliko et son mantra funèbre ("It’s so quiet here I think I’m dying, it’s so quiet here it feels like death..." etc) laissant place sur le superbe A Room Of Lights au même genre d’orgue austère et entêtant que sur My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth tandis que la voix brisée de Susan Matthews exorcise tant bien que mal ses craintes et ses regrets dans l’espoir d’un retour de la lumière. Finalement, la Britannique osera de nouveau tourner son visage vers l’éther et l’astre du jour ("There must be magic") sur un Paul In The Yantra - d’après l’église sur la rivière traversant la cité - dont les fragiles arpèges disséminés s’effacent bientôt devant la majesté des chœurs de cathédrale, final mystique aux allures d’ode à la foi retrouvée
Indie Rock Mag, August 2016




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Susan Matthews
From Veliko

From Susan Matthews I reviewed a solo CDR all the way back in Vital Weekly 810. Back then she played pieces by Erik Satie. Later on I heard her as part of Dead Mauriacs. She has lots more releases out but they don't always reach me. Her new release was created for Net Label Day and released by Pilot Eleven, it says on the website, even when the cover of this CDR says Sirenwire, but maybe that is for the distribution on CDR. The music is inspired by her recent trip to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria and has three pieces, which sadly only lasts fourteen minutes. The first piece is dominated by piano and some highly obscured drone sound, and towards the end some voice; this is quite moody and it sounds great. 'A Room Of Lights' starts with an organ and the same voice, pushed a bit to the background, telling a story, reciting a poem, or something similar, and has a likewise moody character, but is a bit simpler in approach. In 'St Paul In The Yantra' the mood continues and as far as we know lifted from a field recording in a more cavernous surrounding, no doubt a St. Paul church in Veliko Tarnovo, which sounds fine, but which was maybe a bit too regular field recording becoming a drone. I thought it would have been nice if this were all a bit longer; it touches upon variation in these three pieces, but it could have been explored more, through some more pieces.
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, August 2016

Before I Was Invisible - Reviews

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Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

On Before I Was Invisible (SIREN WIRE / WILD SILENCE), Welsh songstress and pianist/composer Susan Matthews teams up with the French visual artist, record collector and musician Rainier Lericolais. This multi-media fellow has hung his work in many French galleries and collaborated with a number of excellent musicians; it seems he’s released over a hundred records, with evocative titles such as Médiumnique Musique and My Song Exaggerated To Dilate Horizontally. He and Matthews have worked together before, for instance on When The Ghosts Are Within These Walls and Homothetique Ricochet, both small-run editions published in 2008 by Matthews on her own Siren Wire Records imprint. Lericolais lends his collage skills to create the cover artworks for this album. They’re a tad conventional, in thrall to Max Ernst, but that’s no bad thing – and they suit the mood of this delicate and enchanting release.

‘The Healer’s Art’ is an extended work of minimal piano trills, gently pulsating electronic tones, and a compelling mood so taut you hardly dare to breathe…occasionally interrupted by fragments of a song delivered in a hesitant voice, a plaintive whine from a woodwind instrument, and distorted found recordings that might be coming from the mouth of a mechanical doll made in the time of Benjamin Franklin. If the plan was to try and pin down the mysterious moods of a dream on tape, much as the surrealists aspired, then the collaboration can be counted a success. Some may scorn its fragile and introverted cheapest kamagra oral jelly uk surface; not me. If you enjoy the somnambulist worlds of Joe Frawley, this eerie broadcast from the night gallery is the one for you.

‘Truth Past the Dare’ is likewise a series of long tones, presented in an unhurried and non-linear fashion…the musicians seem to bring in sounds or musical drones as needed, rather than adhere closely to a schematic plan. Intuition may be a key word here. A beautiful piece to be sure, even if at times it comes close to tipping over into romantic sentimentality.

‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’ is a piece which in title continues the preoccupation with departed souls and vanished friendships, themes alluded to on the earlier 2008 album, and is another highly beguiling work; the voice of Matthews is repeated and overlaid in short, non-logical loop patterns, producing strange overlaps and harmonies, the breathing and short phrases creating a diaphanous mosaic of sound. This translucent veil of vocal music is occasionally bolstered with percussion samples that appear like unexpected supernatural visitors, and the puzzling mood is deepened as the track develops into a quiet and meditative stretch, with very distant and muffled piano music, backwards tapes, and other foreign elements. This piece builds on the dream-like atmosphere established by track 1, and whisks us away further down the pathways of Slumberland towards an oneiric oblivion. We might never wake up again, and we feel excited by the dangerous prospect.
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 22nd May, 2017




before i was - small web

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

Troisième collaboration pour Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais qui débutent Before I was invisible en jouant sur la frontière de l'audible. Difficile de ne pas être subjugué par la mise en place étirée de "The Healer's Art", jusqu'à l'apparition du piano, deux notes immuables, tintinnabulantes et pures  en surimpression d'une trame faite de brouillages imperceptibles, de drones diffus et de divers incursions instrumentales et numériques.  Comme une liturgie arvopartienne imperceptiblement parasitée par une musique de l'effacement, "The Healer's Art" dégage au final une ahurissante impression d'harmonie. Difficile dès lors pour les deux morceaux qui suivent d'atteindre les hauteurs proposées par ces 25' d'état de grâce, mais peu importe, "The Healer's Art" qui justifie à lui seul l'achat de l'album, peut s'écouter à perpétuité.
Publié par BionicVapourBoy, en morceaux, le 25/09/2016




before i was - small web

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

FRIDAY RECOMMENDATION:
"I spent the morning with the third collaboration between french multidisciplinary artist Rainier Lericolais and UK-based musician and labelhead Susan Matthews - another excellent meeting of two musicians expressing their minds and feelings in a well-matched manner. The opener 'The Healers Art' with its slowly wavering drones and concrete exotica webbed in spider-like slowness incorporates distant voices and sparse piano, knitted with delicate electronic processings. There is a zen-like attitude over the runtime of 25 minutes, a steady dance into more twisted territories with softly saturated syllables and creaking resonances.

'Truth Past The Dare' opens the acoustic field with a rich palette of chamber tones, jarring micromelodies and Susan's voice reverberated and granulated to a degree the flow of words and timbres recall a soft, fog-like consistence. The editing on the music allows small excerpts to shapeshift into second like jazz requiems to be folded above time and re-arrange according to the electronic effects and layers.

'Your Ghost Moves With Me' as the closer, clocking 10 minutes, builds a crescendo of frozen voice parts and densely structured harmonics while unfolding in a slowly rotating brass-like mourner, heralded by Susan's choirlike appearance manifesting over the lenght of the composition. A unique work - with the focus on emotion and the more melancholic spectrum of the human experiences."
Thorsten Soltau, May 2016




before i was - small web

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

From the superb Wild Silence label (always a guarantee of something beautiful and refined, both musically and in terms of presentation) comes this latest release from Susan Matthews and Rainier Lericolais, their third album together. Hailing from Wales, Matthews is perhaps best known as the creator and director of the independent Siren Wire label and for her experimental yet hugely powerful solo work. She is also a voracious collaborator with other musicians counting, amongst others, Nick Grey, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, Yokna Patofa and now Lericolias within this circle. Rainier himself is known as an artist, performer, director and musician whose work hangs in the Centre Pompidou in Paris and who has previously teamed up with the esteemed likes of Simon Fisher Turner, Stephan Eicher and Sylvain Chauveau. For this recording the pair present three elongated pieces that sit together as a suite of sorts, an electronic requiem for ghosts.

The twenty five minute 'The Healer's Art' begins the album, as a crackle reminiscent of an old phonograph recording bleeds into a crystal pure drone, the sound of scraped and treated strings whistle by in the ether, a profound and melancholic sense of the sacred permeating throughout. The pitch bends eerily, there are ghost like presences in this music; quiet, determined wraiths that are in no hurry to reveal the reason for their return. Lovers of both Coil's 'Moon Music' and 'Musick To Play In The Dark' series as well as the windswept, bowed strings of composer Richard Skelton will find much to adore here. Solitary piano notes enter as an electric buzz and hum starts to become apparent. Although solemn and almost hymnal, this music is electric; a charge sparks, clicks and cracks across the piece. Long forgotten voices on an archaic vinyl recording play in the background, muffled but fighting for life as the piece purposefully unfolds and layers, the piano motifs become increasingly more central. Matthews's voice drifts into view, almost hushed as spooked brass and strings howl out into the void. Finally, warm organ notes blend with violin as Matthews recites what sounds like modern plainsong whilst vintage radio effects and voices seep into the present, spectral visitors from another era. This is an astonishing introduction, both haunted and haunting, a hugely atmospheric ambient work that stays with the listener long after the last note has rung out.

Next, 'Truth Past The Dare' reverberates into view, sounds and effects swirling forward and decomposing before us. Electronic glitches melt away and then return, floating into melancholic brass (which reminds this listener of John Cale's work on Nico's much underrated 'Camera Obscura' album) and Matthews ethereal, stretched vocal harmonies. Otherworldly and unique this is music for liminal spaces, for dusk or dawn; it is delicate and fragile and deserves rapt attention. Harmonium and chimes slowly and carefully enter to create a truly gorgeous mid section before brass and some very Coil-like electronics join for a heartbreaking and moving finale.

The final piece 'Your Ghost Moves With Me' begins with gossamer vocals that continuously layer upon each other, some playing backwards and drifting in and out of the speakers amidst a gentle buzz. The work quickly develops a choral and dreamlike quality; imagine the effect My Bloody Valentine achieve with guitars but with vocals instead. Percussion enters and leaves as looped strings and sounds appear quietly in the mix, as if hiding and biding their time. Then, the choir departs, the strings take centre stage and what sounds like a treated cello strides ominously into the mix amongst a whispering of spectral voices. This is a haunted house of a song; beautiful, melancholic, tortured and unsettling.

And then it is over and the listener can only wonder what it is he or she has just experienced and heard. One thing is certain, this is music that connects and affects the listener on a very deep level indeed. It is not ambient music in the sense of being background; when 'Before I Was Invisible' is playing you can focus on nothing else. Rainier states that with his work he wishes to grasp the elusive, a fleeting memory or a furtive gesture. I would suggest that with Susan Matthews and this album he has succeeded. This music captures something of a forgotten time, place or feeling; the ghost of a person who once was. Highly recommended.

Available now as a download or as a limited CD in a beautiful gatefold case, made with 100% recycled chipboard with artwork by Rainier Lericolais.
Grey Malkin, The Active Listener, March 2016




before i was - small web

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

Here’s a gem from composer/musician Susan Matthews and multidisciplinary artist and musician Rainier Lericolais. “Before I Was Invisible” begins with a slow build-up, firefly feedback flickering over a quiet held chord. Piano enters with a two-chord pattern, followed by singing, trumpet, strings, and found samples of people singing or talking, for example reciting numbers. This piece, ‘The Healer’s Art’, is drifting and dreamlike, yet at the same time weighted with heavy tension, the unsettling sparseness and repetition of an incantation. Instruments appear and disappear like ghosts, yet despite the tense mood there’s also something strangely soothing about it.

Next piece ‘Truth Past The Dare’ brings a calmer, more yearning mood. A shivering synth or guitar chord sequence forms the basis of the track, with Matthews’ voice providing a continuously-pitched two-vowel note, shifting from “aaahhh” to “ooohhh” and back again. Most instruments are performed at low volume to create a sense of instability and precarity, passing from closeness to distance and back again, hovering astride the threshold of perception. The trumpet, though, is allowed to ring out clear and true, a lighthouse in the storm. Vocals are again used in final piece ‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’, this time forming a warm cloud of edited loops. Untuned percussion beats steady, hypnotic rhythms, before a moody stomping synth leads the track down a darker path.

“Before I Was Invisible” deals in dark colours and slow tempos without ever becoming too maudlin or lapsing into gothic cliché. The use of acoustic instruments, voice, and understated electronics and processing creates a strange sense of intimacy — a chamber music that seems at once a relic of bygone times and a powerful contemporary touchstone. Despite the apparent surface simplicity of the music, each sound, phrase, and harmony is perfectly chosen and deftly arranged. Somewhere between the thunder and excess of electronic noise and the dry cerebrality of current orchestral music, Matthews and Lericolais mark out their own beguiling niché.
Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio, 2016




before i was - small web

Susan Matthews & Rainier Lericolais
Wild Silence

La britannique Susan Matthews s'est fait connaître en temps que compositrice d'une musique plutôt expérimentale, voire bruitiste, à la fois puissante et hypnotique. En 2005, elle a fondé la maison de disque indépendante Siren Wire Recordings, qui devient Siren Wire Editions en 2010, un label qui produit artisanalement des artistes expérimentaux du monde entier. Depuis ses débuts, elle participe à des projets multiples. Before I Was Invisible, sorti en octobre 2015, est son troisième disque (les deux premiers parus sur son label) en collaboration avec le français Rainier Lericolais. Cette fois, c'est le micro label fondé par la pianiste et composititrice éclectique Delphine Dora qui les a pris en charge. Nous sommes ici au croisement subtil des musiques électroniques et ambiantes.

Trois titres de durée décroissante pour cet album dont la couverture et le dos de l'emballage cartonné (fabrication locale, assemblage manuel...) donnent le ton par leur étrangeté surréalisante. "The Healers art", plus de vingt-cinq minutes, nous embarque dans un voyage parasité par un crépitement de fond. Disons-le tout de suite. Le profane ne saurait dire souvent ce qui est produit acoustiquement ou électroniquement. Tout commence par un son tenu, sur lequel viennent glisser d'autres surgissements plus aigus. Puis c'est de l'orgue, des claviers, qui les enveloppent dans une trame ondulante. Les ondes (je pense aux ondes Martenot, aux scies musicales...) s'égratignent, dirait-on, dans les amples oscillations, laissant loin derrière tout paysage connu. Un piano fait son apparition, plaque quelques notes dans ce continuum intense, semble susciter les voix déformées de mannequins perdus au fond des temps. La pièce acquiert une grâce fantastique, comme en lévitation, doucement pulsante. Qu'elle évoque par son titre l'art du guérisseur n'est pas anodin. Un vrai chant très pur, intériorisé, de Susan, sans doute, nous libère des fardeaux quotidiens. Tout se déforme, perd sa matérialité, on reste suspendu à ce léger battement d'un souvenir de guitare. Ce qui se tisse, c'est une toile lente, le filet mystérieux d'une incantation où se prennent les sons, distordus ou pas - on reconnaît un saxophone au passage - comme dans une chambre d'écho aux multiples failles. Il y aurait un violoncelle englouti au fond de l'antre sonore, on serait arrivé au pays où l'on ne meurt plus jamais, porté par un mouvement si doux, une harmonie archangélique. Une splendeur !

"Truth past the dare" sonne d'emblée plus étrange, plus résolument contemporain, expérimental : discontinuité, sorte de gargouillis sonore dont sortent toutefois une clarinette et une voix, celle-ci prenante dans ses aigus tenus, contrastant avec le magma du premier plan. Un piano s'insinue entre les deux, la matière s'aère, la voix domine les volutes embrouillées. La palette orchestrale s'étoffe : un clavier / accordéon installe une respiration, la clarinette réapparaît, d'où un curieux dialogue entre les instruments et les brouillons sonores. Là aussi, l'écriture resserre les liens, assure la cohésion entre le diaphane de la voix et le reste du vaisseau sonore, le tout étant d'une vraiment troublante beauté.

Le fantôme est bien là dans "Your ghost moves with me", dont le début me fait irrésistiblement penser aux très beaux disques de Tamia chez T Records (par exemple le magnifique Senza Tempo) puis ECM au milieu des années quatre-vingt : la superposition des voix, leur décalage, crée un étrange oratorio rythmé par une percussion sèche obsédante. Nous sommes dans la forêt des voix, émerveillés, frôlés par mille créatures invisibles. Les voix se font plus discrètes, souvent recouvertes par de brusques surgissements énigmatiques, peut-être les geôliers des esprits féminins emprisonnés, rejoints à la fin par quelques voix masculines…
Une magnifique découverte, un très grand disque !
Inactuelles, musiques singulieres, Sept 2016

Tales From The Forbidden Garden - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
Tales From The Forbidden Garden
Sirenwire Recordings, Catalogue number: SW100

Outsider mentalist Susan Matthews is doing something a bit different on this new CD. It's all been based around a series of guitar 'jams' on an analogue tape given to Susan by her friend Laurence Kain shortly before he died. What she's done here is take those jagged, percussive jams, cut them up, manipulated them, and provided her own vocals and percussion and various other instruments to create something new and finished, and serve to document their friendship and Susan's loss. At the start it's a manic, deranged burst of wounded-animal aggression. Sonically chaotic and grimy, lyrically vulnerable and raw, with the delivery alternately channelling Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch and Eve Libertine. In the quieter moments there's often buzzes and creaks for a claustrophobic, panicky effect, and as the album progresses it moves more into disjointed, loop-based atmospheres. The songs are succinct enough to never lose your attention, conjuring surreal post-punk and chaotic noise and weird skittish atmospheres which are varied and focused and raw. A document of the final communique between two friends, there's an almost invasive sense of intimacy here as the desperate, grief-cracked singing of closer 'Almost As Already Is' rings hazily out. It's hard not to give it your full attention. An artful, honest and emotional mix of noise rock and ambient textures and altogether a unique and brave piece of work.

A Norman Records recommendation (3rd May 2012) - (5 out of 5 Stars)
Mike, Norman Records, May 2012




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Susan Matthews
Tales From The Forbidden Garden
Sirenwire Recordings, Catalogue number: SW100

Patronne du label Siren Wire qui nous proposera bientôt le nouvel album de la pianiste Delphine Dora - entendue en début d’année au côté d’Half Asleep sur le théâtral et non moins habité You’re Not Mad, You’re Just Lonely  -, Susan Matthews ne manifeste pas vraiment le même genre de délicatesse sur son dernier album solo, petit chef-d’oeuvre de no wave schizophrénique et tourmentée conseillé notamment aux admirateurs d’Evangelista.

Dédié à un certain Laurence Kain, Tales From The Forbidden Garden est basé sur les expérimentations de ce guitariste ou plus exactement sur une série de jams enregistrés sur cassette juste avant sa mort et que la Galloise sample et malmène de toutes les manières imaginables au fil de ces 10 titres aussi fulgurants qu’irréductibles. No wave disions-nous, et donc par définition inclassable mais on ne manquera pas de distinguer sur l’album de gros morceaux de dub abrasif (Who Speaks For Truth ?), d’indus forcenée (The Middle Road), d’ambient discordante (Flinch, Recoil), de drone doom angoissé (Wretched Mess) voire même de black metal sur le cauchemardesque Chokeback où la poétesse noise se mue en prêtresse satanique entre deux flots d’incantations ésotériques - spectrales et entremêlées sur Zenith ou plus tribales et hypnotiques sur un Skin Layers Scars aux allures de rituel vaudou. Autant dire que du larsen étouffant d’In Your Eyes aux errances rampantes d’Almost As Already, le portrait écorché et anxieux que la musicienne a crûment choisi pour servir de pochette au successeur du fantomatique Alone In The Midnight Ocean ne pourrait mieux illustrer la brutale ambivalence d’un album résolument mortifère, où rage et fragilité s’entrelacent jusqu’à la folie.

Translation by Google Translate: Patroness of the label Siren Wire we will soon the new album by pianist Delphine Dora - heard earlier this year alongside Half Asleep in the theater and no less inhabited're Not Mad, You're Just Lonely - Susan Matthews does not really manifest the same kind of delicacy on this latest solo album, a small masterpiece of no wave and tormented schizophrenic recommended especially to fans of Evangelista.

Dedicated to a certain Laurence Kain, Tales From The Forbidden Garden is based on experiments of this guitarist or rather a series of jams on tape just before his death and that the Welsh sample and mauls in every way imaginable over the these 10 stocks as dazzling qu'irréductibles.

We said no wave, and therefore by definition category but we can not fail to distinguish the album chunks of abrasive dub (Who Speaks For Truth?) Of industrial frantic (The Middle Road), from ambient discordant (Flinch, Recoil), anguished drone doom (Wretched Mess) and even black metal nightmare on the poetess Chokeback where noise is transformed into a satanic priestess between two streams of esoteric incantations - spectral and intermingled on Zenith or over hypnotic and tribal Scars on Skin Layers voodoo-like ritual.

Suffice to say that the feedback of stifling the vagaries In Your Eyes Almost As Creepy Already, the portrait skinned and anxious that the musician was crudely chosen to serve as the successor to the ghostly cover Alone In The Midnight Ocean could better illustrate the brutal ambivalence of an album decidedly deadly, where rage and fragility intertwine to madness.

Indie Rock Mag, June 2012

Harme 'Ashes Of The Soul' - Reviews

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Harme
Ashes of The Soul
Sirenwire, Catalogue number: SW99

There’s always a weird kind of disconnect that comes from listening to dark ambient records in the middle of sunny afternoons, but the weather won’t wait for us so sometimes that’s exactly what we have to do. This here CD from Susan Matthews and Clint Newton’s Harme project (on Matthews’s own Sirenwire imprint) has seven tracks of moody plonking and grating and droning on it, with titles like ‘Flame of the Forest’, ‘Blood Star’ and ‘Shivering Tree’. It’s quite organic sounding, with evil rumbly drones being accompanied by various more physical sounds; clanging bells, piano and the like. Is somebody playing an antler? I think they might be you know. In places it reminds me of the ambient music that happens when shit’s about to get real in the Silent Hill games. Proper shivery creepiness. It’s got the dreadful atmospheres of the likes of Burial Hex but with that earthy physicality of someone like the Rain Drinkers, I suppose. Twitchy, paranoid sounds for late night spook-out action.

Mike, Norman Records, April 2012 (4 out of 5 Stars)

A Kiss For The Umbrella Man - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
A Kiss For The Umbrella Man
Quiet World

Here’s a sweet little CD by Susan Matthews on the Quiet World label. It’s a limited signed and numbered thing and there’s only 50 copies for the world! Here Susan takes on the mighty Erik Satie and reinterprets his work Susan style! You get 7 tracks of piano based loveliness. It’s a gentle listen and one suited to an evening where log fires and wine are involved (which should be every evening!). It’s evocative music and when the odd sample pops up giving you a break from the piano you realise that it’s not Erik Satie you’re listening to and it’s interpretations of his work. Thoroughly lovely stuff!!

Phil, Norman Records, 30 November 2011. (4 out of 5 stars)




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SUSAN MATTHEWS
A Kiss For The Umbrella Man
Quiet World

Where for “Umbrella Man” Matthews means “Erik Satie”, who was extremely fond of that particular object. In about 23 minutes (intelligent decision), subdivided in seven tracks, snippets of celebrated works by the renowned composer are altered, cut, speeded up or slowed down, spiced with sub-bass and other types of moderately displacing frequencies, or even short fragments taken from an answering machine. At first, an accelerated version of “Gymnopedies” (renamed “Ouvrez La Tête”) had me thinking of some sort of sick joke, but when the subsequent chapters start diffusing their aromas in somewhat askew tranquillity, a couple of listens is enough to appreciate the combination of love for the original and slightly bizarre twisting of an otherwise peaceful acoustic environment. This was a dangerous move – too many reworkings of famous music have brought loads of rubbish on us in the past – however in this circumstance the outcome is more than acceptable, an elegant yet quirky offer by an artist I was not acquainted with before.

MASSIMO RICCI. TOUCHING EXTREMES. December 9, 2011




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SUSAN MATTHEWS
A KISS FOR THE UMBRELLA MAN
(CDR by Quiet World)

The Umbrella man mentioned in the title of the release by Susan Matthews is Erik Satie. There is no sense in denying that: right from the start this is clear. It starts out with Gymnopedies No. 1, perhaps Satie's best known piece, but in quite a fast mode - is this a joke? As it turns out, not really (at least that's what I think). I never heard of Matthews although, according to Quiet World she has an extensive discography, and that she is also a performer, or even interpreter here, as apparently she plays all those pieces by herself. She also plays the first of Pieces Froids and Gnossiennes number two and four. I am not entirely sure what she does with that, except playing them a bit faster than usual, as the common opinion is to play them quite slow. There seems also to be a small amount of electronic processing going on, and it transforms these six (!) pieces into wholly something else. Satie is still recognizable, but there is something else going on, something that is not easy to define, but certainly something that is quite interesting. A very radical re-interpretation of the original Satie works maintaining a great sensibility. This is a work that should be heard by a greater audience then just those who still cherish CDR only releases.

Address: http://www.quietworld.co.uk
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly No:810 Week 50, Dec 13th 2011




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Susan Matthews
A Kiss For The Umbrella Man
Quiet World

The Umbrella Man through Brecon Eyes
Some parts of the above rant may have appealed to the composer Erik Satie, whose piano pieces are often associated with a slow performance or a promenade around the park where we can simply take time to stop and stare. What would this cafe-society aesthete have made of the over-crowded blogosphere? His minimalist philosophy has been used as a springboard by later modernists, including Cage, Reich, Adams and others; I suspect he’s even been credited with inventing “ambient” music before Brian Eno. For a less formalist and far more imaginative take on Satie, may I recommend A Kiss For The Umbrella Man (QUIET WORLD 21) by Susan Matthews, the South Wales musician. She takes extracts from well-known Satie tunes and serves them up with her own unusual piano arrangements, sometimes allowing for the addition of recorded voices and other tape layers; even the sound of the piano is treated in suitably subtle electro-acoustic fashion. Classical purists would probably throw a fit after hearing eight bars of this, but Matthews has genuine affection for the music and reveals hidden truths in Satie’s music through her very creative exploratory methods. Unfinished, uncertain in places, and not a revolutionary art statement, but Satie’s gorgeous scales and chord combinations really sing under her fingers, although I doubt this album is intended to showcase a virtuoso piano performance as convention would normally demand. By which I mean the ideas of Susan Matthews are prioritised over technique, and that is a good thing. It’s as though an art student were allowed free rein to interpret the classics as they see fit, and I’d like to see more of that…in my ideal world this important stuff would not be left solely in the hands of the trained and established “experts”. Egads, only 50 copies were pressed of this lovely CDR, and I’ve had it here since November. Better order your copy sharpish. If it’s sold out, send an email directly to Ian Holloway demanding a repress. Tell him I sent ya!
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 28 March 2012




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Susan Matthews
A Kiss For The Umbrella Man
Quiet World

Taking extracts from and interpreting the work of Erik Satie, the EP "A Kiss For The Umbrella Man" is typically understated piano-based music. Vocals emerge from deep in the mix on 'Du Coin De La Main' and on 'Suel, Pendant Un Instant,' where the voice is recorded, like a treasured memory.
  Terrascope.co.uk, March 2012

Motion.Silence.Echo. - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
Motion.Silence.Echo

I reviewed a Susan Matthews CD that came in recently which I thought was ace so I quickly nabbed this before anyone could get their germ-ridden paws on it. Apparently this two disc set has been four years in the making so you’d hope it’d be worth the wait. Some of her favourite artists have remixed her work and they include Nick Grey, Rainier Lericolais, Alistair Crosbie, Tony Wakeford, Andrew Paine, Tex La Homa, Clutter and a load of other folks. I find her style of experimental music very listenable and the remixers have largely kept this spirit intact whilst also staking their own territory. Electronics, piano and vocal samples are the main bread and butter here so if that scares you then run away! Having said that it’s all gone a bit beauty (ala Art of Noise) on the ‘M’ remix.  That’s a red herring though as the majority of it is electronics and drones along with vocal samples which make the experience a more gentle one. I wish more women made experimental music cos it makes my ears feel nice. On double discs for the time being until it runs out and turns into a single disc edition....

A Norman Records recommendation (16th November 2011) - (5 out of 5 stars)
Phil, Norman Records 16 November 2011

Alone In The Midnight Ocean - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
Alone In The Midnight Ocean

Not a place where you want to be I suspect...cold, dark and reasonably wet. Not to mention the killer fish. Fortunately I’m sat in my living room with flaptop warming my knees whilst the warm sounds of this latest Susan Matthews album warm my ears. I think I might have a new thing to get into!! It’s been a while but I’m really warming to the releases I’ve heard on this label. Put simply it’s experimental music but it’s done with a real sense of depth and feeling which is often missing? I think it could be the feminine touch... Musically you get some drones, folk(y) vocals which are often hushed and breathy, piano and some strange noises which combined with the general sombre mood of the album leaves you feeling emotionally worn out. I’d like to shoehorn the word haunting in there somewhere...there, I’ve done it. It’s not an easy listen by any stretch of the mind but I liked this straight away which rarely happens with me these days (I’m well fussy...)

5 out of 5 Stars, Phil, Norman Records, September 2011

Harme - Reviews

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Harme
The Place Of Limitless Echoes

We got a bunch of stuff in this week on the Sirenwire label which is run by Susan Matthews. It looks like interesting stuff so I grabbed a couple to check out. Harme is Susan and Clint Newton (who is a new name to me). Together they have forged this two disc set of experimental noodlings just for you. And you should be grateful that people out there are forging such partnerships purely to give you fresh ear sounds. This apparently is their second collaboration and though I've only heard the first disc (alas there's not enough hours in the day) I can confirm it's a goodie! On this playful set you get some strange electronics, lush acoustic guitars playing some delightfully simple yet effective melodies, plentyapiano, field recordings, choral voices, general weirdness and lots lots more. At times it reminds me a bit of Natural Snow Buildings with its simple folk musings but before you know what's going on it goes a bit radio rental with some crazy Philip Glass style repetitive electronic noises. Strange rhythmical occurrences are surpassed by some vocal warbling and alien like noises. It's a truly fascinating listen and one that not many people will ever get to hear I suspect as there's only 50 of 'em. Nice work!

4 stars, by Phil, Norman Records, September 2011

Music For Two Pianos - Reviews

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Susan Matthews & Richard Moult
Music For Two Pianos
Sonic Oyster Records

A recent gem from the network of small musical publications in Britain is this collaboration between Matthews and Moult, who sat down to improvise delicate pieces for piano. Now, I don’t have the musicological education to be able to place the compositions that emerged from these sessions in terms of style or even tonality, but based on pure feeling they are delicate and subtle, and very satisfying to listen to. A bit like many of Moult’s solo piano works, the melodies on this album speak a unique language that is not directly referential or concrete. Sometimes they can set a mood of wonder or melancholy, but always at such an abstract level that they hold on to a certain mystic power. The seven tracks manage to hold on to a beautiful, calm flow for 45 minutes, and are highly recommended listening for anyone interested in experimental piano music. Sadly, this one was limited to a mere 50 copies on Sonic Oyster records, so you’ll either have to look for a second-hand or mailorder copy, or wait for volume 2, which I hope is in the works.

Evening Of Light, August 2011




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Susan Matthews & Richard Moult
Music For Two Pianos
Sonic Oyster Records

Susan Matthews is a UK based composer/musician, known for her intense, ambitious, hypnotic harmonies and industrial noise creations: Richard Moult is a poet, painter and composer, and a member of Irish psych-folk band United Bible Studies.
‘Music For Two Pianos Vol 1’ is their first collaboration: a ‘classical’ transmission: personal, meaningful, emotive.
The playing is beautiful: the dynamics, tempo and expression of the music located somewhere between creative improvisatory deviation and the discipline of trained musical tradition.

Sonic Oyster Records, 2011

The Whispering Void - Reviews

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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




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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, leicesterbangs.co.uk, October 2010

In Search Of The Shadow Walker - Reviews

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Susan Matthews - In Search of the Shadow Walker
(Sonic Oyster Records SOR39)
CDR

Let me start off with an admittance that I wasn't (and indeed am still not) overly taken with the opening track here. The birds are too high in the mix and the music too overtly reminiscent of Current 93 at their most bucolic for me to fall into. It's not bad by any stretch it just isn't for me. The rest of the album on the other hand is fantastic. This is the first time I've heard Susan follow an entirely instrumental path and (with all due respect to her singing) it's something I'd certainly like to hear more of. She has a fully developed and thoroughly engrossing composition style that, aside from occasional brushes with the familiar (track 4 - Broken - would be perfectly at home on the soundtrack to Amelie), is an absolute delight. She weaves heavy, weighty, almost gothic, tapestries around delicate melodies and a prismatic exoticism. A beautiful album.

Ian Holloway, Wonderful Wooden Reasons, Oct 2010




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Susan Matthews - In Search of the Shadow Walker
(Sonic Oyster Records SOR39)

In Search Of The Shadow Walker...matches brief, almost impressionistic piano, synth and keyboard pieces with subtle sound effects and snippets of natural sound. The mood is dreamlike and evanescent. Short tracks and plenty of variety make for an absorbing listen

Terrascope, July 2011

LIVE REVIEWS

SHIP OF FOOLS
London, 7 February 2010

Tony Wakeford and Andrew King have both performed on the Ship of Fools before, but Susan Matthews is a new face here, although the Wales-based electronic and experimental composer contributed guest vocals to Tony Wakeford’s 2009 solo album Not All Of Me Will Die. Her keyboards and vocals are backed with ambient electronica courtesy of Shaun Blezard, a.k.a. Clutter – their set seems to be unfortunately plagued with technical difficulties, but when it comes together, the blend of ethereal drones and Susan’s fragile vocals is quite bewitching – I’d really like to see her play again under less challenging conditions. She appears on the With Friends Like These… compilation with a track called ‘Time Will Leave Me Behind’.

Drengskap, Heathen Harvest, March 2010




F.O.N. FESTIVAL
Barrow In Furness, 23 October 2009

By now Susan Matthews and Shaun Blezard are playing witches and wizards back in The Canteen. Drawing in the forgotten spaces of Lakeland coast they bleed curlew cries and drygrass whispers. Susan Matthews, sitting by an old piano, sends single notes on searching journeys.

Wendy Cook, http://www.thebox.myzen.co.uk/Music/, October 2009

Axis Vein - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
Axis Vein

This, the fifth solo venture from Matthews, finds the artist ably exploring the darker corners of human experience. The CD carries the stark, black and white image of a child, seemingly the host of a wound or expulsion of disease. Such a two-tone organic image of flawed perfection merely hints at the sounds therein. Almost organic-noise in essence the soundscapes are opened with 'Splinter', a track that slowly gathers layers of discordant instrumentation through which Matthews distinctive tones float, Sybil-like as electronic beats begin to ricochet before the whole track merges into some great satanic procession. What is evident throughout is Matthew's manipulation of noise as abrasive textures are punctuated with stuttered formulas and organic-noise floors that stretch and contort. The album as a whole is very constructed and no track feels intrusive or out of continuity. From the deconstruct red frequencies of 'Moon Tremors' to the haunting, respiratory pulse of (moon bound) the path is laid for the final tracks that shimmer with high frequency disturbances, lo-fi rumbles and rains of abrasive electronics, inverted sounds and loops. The axis about which Matthew's compositions spiral and rail seems to inherit an image which is secondary to the music, the music itself defining the landscape and character in greater clarity. This is one of Matthew's strengths and why her works are considered pieces rather than mere assemblages of sporadic noise pieces.  'Axis Vein' succeeds because it has the power to interact with its audience and as such reward, it represents a marvelous and vibrant talent within the genre.

Michael Cunningham, Judas Kiss Magazine, October 2009




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Susan Matthews
Axis Vein

Axis Vein (SIREN WIRE RECORDINGS SW81) is a collection of bleak songs and tunes all rendered in a variety of inventive, stark and minimalist ways, which dwell in areas of mysterious pain and fear perhaps as a method of exorcising some very personal demons. Her breathy vocalising is infinitely preferable to the awful Sinead O’Connor. Some are bordering on being musical atmospheres than actual songs, but everything contributes to the sense of personal suffering or injury as evinced by the cover pictures, depicting a head with fake injuries and blood in shadowy b/w photos.

Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, November 2008




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Susan Matthews
Axis Vein
Sirenwire Recordings
Rating: 8/10

  Susan Matthews is a left-of-field, UK based composer you might not yet have heard of but her ceaseless output, which include numerous EP’s, collaborations and a forthcoming film soundtrack, have made ripples in the underground scene. Specialising in the otherworldly realms of the avant-garde, Matthews’ makes a brand of sound that pits the fragile beauty of the female voice against the dark and oppressive tones of industrial noise and dark ambience. The 10 track ‘Axis Vein’ release is Matthews’ 5th solo album and comes courtesy of her own ‘Siren Wire’ label.

Composed and performed by Matthews and Mark Ingram, opener ‘Splinters’ delights with its eerie bounce and otherworldly tones. Like This Heat meets John Cooper Clark’s ‘Evidently Chickentown’, stark and clanging percussives underpin an ever-increasing layer of waltzing horns and manipulated clicks’n’cuts which rapidly dance around each-other to the point of frenzy whilst Matthews’ somber vocals wring out with childlike innocence. Hovering between angelic dirge and the mutterings of the insane, Matthews’ ghostly tones are Christina Carter-esque in stature and litter the toxic, industrial soundscapes which whirr, bleat and hum beneath. From the subtle yet distressing squeals on ‘The Empty Auditorium’ to the atonal whispers on ‘Bound’, Matthews voice is in fine fettle, tuned in as another instrument in the swirling soundscape of industrial-psyche that wreaks emotional havoc. This emotional havoc is especially manifest in ‘Flex’ which sees Matthews’ haunting and fragile voice weave intrinsically into an atmospheric, folk-noise tapestry that is deep-rooted in the realms of darkness.

‘Axis Vein’ comes across as an extremely consistent long player that never deviates from its original soundsphere yet somehow manages to welcome in a host of motifs across a wide range of musical-styles. From the isolationist and distressing dark-ambience of ‘The Blood Harvest’ with its heavyset bass-pounds, to the warm Eno-esque organ-scape of ‘The Empty Auditorium’, ’Axis Vein’ plays out like a piece of audio-theatre. Cinemascope sound-effects, swathes of industrial noise and ominous electronic tones make skeletal soundscapes that progressively intensify as layer on layer of skree piles on-top- the end result being a set of songs that play out like a requiem to lost dreams. ‘Axis Vein’ is interspersed by poignant and introspective segments of melancholic keys which are combined with electronic crackle and fuzz to create a dark and atmospheric soundscape reminiscent of those found scattered on Aphex Twin’s ‘Drukqs’. These pieces, namely ‘Moon Tremors’ and ‘(Moon Bound)’ serve to accentuate the relative harshness and jarring industrialism of the pieces around it.

So appeasing to fans of the angelic dark, Matthews’ use and combination of subtle textures and pronounced dynamics makes you drift into a warm and inviting abyss from which you don’t want to leave. It is one of those releases that grows and grows on the listener with each listen and most definitely grabs the attention if listened to in a captive environment. So dim the lights, shut the curtains and lock into ‘Axis Vein’, you will not be disappointed.

KS, Experimusic.com, Oct 2008  




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Susan Matthews
Axis Vein
Siren Wire Recordings

I just heard a promo of Susan Matthews' new CD - AXIS VEIN - and its so good I need to break radio silence to post a review.

Susan's soundscapes touch on something close to a common nightmare. They begin beneath the surface of domestic ordinariness and descend into sorrow, distrust, madness, and abstraction. It's at the bottom of this pit, where she scrapes her fingertips seductively against the edges of the unknown, that her style becomes stunningly unique.

Susan's work always takes you a step beyond what you're expecting or what you can imagine. She lifts the rock to show you the worms, and then she shows you what's under the worms. The first track on AXIS VEIN is called "Splinters", a rhythmic, playful, foot-tapping ditty. But this is merely a cunningly dressed-up doorway to entice you inside and blind you to what's coming next. "Splinters" eventually breaks up, disintegrating into "Beech Wretch", and by now you know that she's closed the door firmly behind you. You're given a brief moment of quiet melancholic reflection with track three, "Moon Tremors", before the distant, clunking train wheels of "The Blood Harvest" signal the arrival of some kind of horrible insanity. And then you're suddenly on board this thing, skimming straight past the expected domestic nightmares and on your way to somewhere much more frightening.

"The Empty Auditorium", "Flex" and "(moon bound)" carry us through various stages of terrifying emotional vivisection and inquietude until you're confronted by the two final tracks - "The Cartography of Fear" and "The Architect's Demise" - like a wall of grinding noise at the end of the line, and the only way out is through the middle of them.

Since her early work, Susan has been poking nerve endings with poetic laments, ghost voices, and industrial noise. She's successfully combined fragmented conversations with broken music, and desolate pianos with quietly ominous electronic tones to create soundscapes with astonishing emotional complexities. Her uniquely personal sound falls somewhere between symphony and white noise, her voice hovers between angelic dirge and the mutterings of the insane. She's been intense, sincere, and playful. But, this time, I think she's genuinely trying to scare the crap out of us. 

She's chucked you down the rabbit hole before, now she's telling you that she's dropped something horrible down there with you, and although she might sing you a quiet melody to calm your nerves, she's not going to lift a finger to help you out.

Susan Matthews is a dangerous woman. Her hypnotic melodies will pull you onto the rocks, but there is nothing you can do to resist them. She is a genuine modern day Siren.

Dan Schaffer, LiveJournal, April 2008

Clutter vs Susan Matthews 'Slow Corrosion' - Reviews

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Clutter Vs Susan Matthews
Slow Corrosion EP
Earth Monkey Productions

Susan Matthews appears to be effortlessly establishing herself in the underground avant-garde music genre. This joint collaboration with Clutter sees her vocal sojourns take a lesser role amidst clouds of distortion and partial frequencies. The EP is compiled of four tracks of which, the opener, 'Slow Corrosion' imparts not only the EP's aesthetic theme but also that of it's sound framing. The use of telephone messages create a tangibility to the sense of isolation that the track instills, coupled with percussive dissonances that revolve in a core signature. Melody is manipulated and rephrased while machine-noise gently throbs and drones, punctuated by Matthews voice which is disarticulated and reminded me of a fractured Beth Gibbons of Portishead. This sets the tone for the EP sound as 'Underwater' introduces stratified frequency pulses that are buffeted by a deep droning patterns and low electronic reverbs. 'Corrosive Corrosive' and 'Hushed Deep Dub' syncopate through shared compositions with the latter providing some noise cut-ups and acute tones that drill down through the distortions as sounds drop in and out of the mix. The strength of the EP is that it uses the limited running time (just over twenty minutes) to the fullest capacity; establishing a fresh and engaging exchange of talent that culminates in a trippy experience formed of thoughtful layering and altered volumes that leaves the listener very satisfied.

Michael, Judas Kiss Magazine, June 2009




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Clutter Vs Susan Matthews
Slow Corrosion EP
Earth Monkey Productions

Susan is a perennial favourite here at WWR (this is her third appearance in these pages this year) but Clutter on the other hand are a completely new property to these tired old ears.  The music on offer on this mini-cd is much more grounded than Matthews solo work.  The usually all pervasive ephemeral exoticism of her music has been replaced by industrial rhythms, disjointed half-melodies and static-charged noise cascades.  I like this, I don't think I'll play it very often, it's just a little too mechanical for my tastes, but I'll definitely be playing it.  I found myself missing Susan's vocals which in itself is unusual for me as I generally am not a vocals fan but to my mind they are the heart of Susan's music and I think it would have been interesting if Clutter had made wider use of them in his adroit re-workings. In all it's a very interesting diversion and a bold and welcome sideways step into the unknown (presumably for both participants) which should always be applauded.

Ian Holloway, Wonderful Wooden Reasons, July 2008




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Clutter Vs Susan Matthews
Slow Corrosion EP
Earth Monkey Productions

Though...(Slow Corrosion)...also belongs to the dreamlike state of abstract ambience there is also rhythmic signs on this release. The album titled Slow corrosion EP is based on compositions by Susan Matthews remixed by the artist Clutter. Opening track...Slow corrosion...belongs to the darkest territories of trip hop with dragging beats slowly moving in creepy electronic atmospheres assisted by the voice of Susan Matthews that in its style reminds a bit of Kim Gordon from the early years of Sonic Youth. From second track forward the expression moves into pure ambient territories. Creepy soundscapes built on found sounds, processed and concrete mixed up with the excellent voices of Susan Matthews. Two interesting opening releases in the Collector's Series.

NM, Vital Weekly, Sept 2008

Homothetique Ricochet - Reviews

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Susan Matthews and Rainier Lericolais
Homothetique Ricochet

Homothetique Richochet (SIREN WIRE RECORDINGS SW79) is a collaboration she did with Parisian artiste Rainier Lericolais. This one is even more abstracted and distant, combining slow and wispy electronic modernist instrumentals with strange layers of whispered vocals. The titles, written in French, allude to certain uncomfortable aspects of human relationships such as ‘long dysfunctional silence’. If there’s an imaginary couple glimpsed in the interstices of this album, they’re having trouble controlling their darker passions and agonise for long hours as they strive to reach a state of honesty which most people spend their lives trying to avoid. Pretty heavy going, and I found it hard to grasp onto anything very tangible in these dreamy atmospheres, but the sound world created here is new and unusual.

Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, November 2008




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Susan Matthews and Rainier Lericolais
Homothetique Ricochet

I heard the Rainier collaboration last week and it's fantastic. Rainier coerces Susan's music and vocal samples towards a more European, sometimes jazzier sound, but without losing the intense personal nature of her work. While some of these mixes embellish her sound with a more extravagant style, others are sparse and get even closer to the bone, the different angle tapping a new vein and taking us deeper into Susan's intimate psychological soundscape, and closer to Susan herself (or the projected idea of what she represents within the music). For any collaboration, you've got to admit that's pretty remarkable.

Dan Schaffer, LiveJournal, September 2007

The Silent Architect & Silent Variations - Reviews

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Susan Matthews
The Silent Architect

The Silent Architect (SW75) was made in 2007. On it, Ms Matthews appears on the cover (photographed by Mark Ingram) posing alongside the old stones of a country wall entangled with ivy creepers, with various expressions of uncertainty on her gaunt visage. On the grooves we hear ten ambiguous and semi-poetic explorations in sound, where the weather, the seasons, and the times of day are used to express aspects of unknown states of mind. Her own thin voice is aided by the eerie vocals of Hoel le Quenven on four of these cuts, some of which are enhanced with appropriate field recordings and sound effects, such as ocean waves on ‘The Mariner’s Lament’. Come to that, since there is the sound of a bonfire on ‘Samhain Lullaby’, I wouldn’t be surprised if all four elements (fire, air, earth and water) are represented hereon.

Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, November 2008




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Susan Matthews
The Silent Architect
Sirenwire

Using the most fragile and lucid instrumentation and composition Susan guides us on journeys across the loneliest of landscapes. Her musicianship transporting us on a most melancholic distraction from reality.  Beautiful.

Ian Holloway, Wonderful Wooden Reasons, April 2008




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Susan Matthews
The Silent Architect/Silent Variations
Siren Wire

The Silent Architect and Silent Variations, its corresponding EP of outtakes and alternate versions, represent Susan Matthews’ second album and EP releases of 2007 and her fourth full-length album for Siren Wire Recordings in three years.  With every release Matthews introduces new facets of her musical ability to her listeners, in this case a gentler, more serene aspect not immediately evident in her previous work.

Matthews’ work is always intensely heartfelt and often tackles personal issues and feelings with passionate conviction.  Frequently dark and impassioned but always experimental, her work shows a musician on a journey documented by each album’s release.  The Silent Architect sees Matthews strip back the layers and work at a more intricate level than ever before.  Her recognizable style is still very much intact and the experimentation is still there but the whole mood and feel of the album is calmer and more relaxed.  The opening tracks, “Dawn” and “Spring Dancing,” set the mood nicely with a chorus of birdsong accompanied by the folky harmonies of guest vocalist Hoel le Quenven followed by the soothing tones of Matthews herself.  Maintaining the gentle mood is “The Mariner’s Lament,” a mournful track featuring melancholy piano set to the sound of waves on the shore, seagulls crowing and a buoy clanging. Although this track is essentially classical in nature and consists entirely of just Matthews at the piano, the sentiment is one of sadly reflecting at sailors long lost at sea, almost as an ode to them and those they left behind.  For “Spiegelkabinett” and “Almost February” Matthews sets poet Alexander Booth’s prose to her own music, the former a cascading flow of hypnotic chimes and the latter focusing solely on the heartfelt longing in Matthews’ reading.  It is not until “Through Form” that we see Matthews’ familiar experimental leanings start to show through, the mix of le Quenven’s harmonies, spliced chimes and percussive elements further depicting the stripped back nature of The Silent Architect.  Stripped back further still is the piano-based track “Weals,” with its careful use of space, silence and the creakings of the piano as it is played.  Although one of the most minimal tracks on the whole album “Weals” exhibits an intimate insight into the contemplative thoughts and feelings of the player.  Continuing the theme of utilizing field recordings into the album is “Samhain Lullaby;” the crackle of a roaring fire vividly juxtaposing a baby crying, the electronic sounds of conflict and the fragile French meanderings of le Quenven apparently trying to shield the child from the dangers lying outside with a gentle song and comforting safety of home.  Le Quenven’s manipulated harmonies also appear on “Keel,” initially a sinister track of dark intent featuring torrential rain and a thunderstorm that takes on an entirely more welcoming tone with the introduction of Matthews’ gentle piano playing.  Closing the album is the hymn-like “The Passing” with its sombre clock chimes and Matthews’ gentle harmonies.

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The Silent Architect’s sister EP, Silent Variations, features alternate versions of four tracks from the album.  Released at the same time as the album, Silent Variations gives Matthews an opportunity to experiment further with some of the album tracks and present them in a different light.  The alternate version of “Weals” for example is essentially the same as the album version but augmented by a low buzzing drone while “Spiegelkabinett” is slightly more stripped back and less layered than its album counterpart.  “Through Form to Form,” one of the more experimental tracks on The Silent Architect, loses its underlying organ-like drone to emphasize its more experimental qualities and effectively change it’s ending, putting the whole track in a different context to the album version.  The Silent Variations version of “The Mariner’s Lament” entitled “Lily (The Mariner’s Lament)” strips away the field recordings and leaves just Matthews’ piano playing in its full glory, switching the mood of the track to one that could quite easily represent the sound of an after dinner soiree in a salubrious drawing room many years ago.  Closing the EP is “Keel (Impression)” which dispenses with le Quenven’s slightly disturbing opening harmonies and thunderclaps throughout, transforming the track into an entirely more comforting prospect complete with the sound of gentle rainfall.

The Silent Architect represents a real change in focus for Matthews; gone are the complex intertwining layers of dark sound, the emphasis being on gentle minimal sounds accompanied by carefully chosen field recordings.  The end result is an interesting one as Matthews’ is still able to create an album that, while it is markedly different in content and style to her previous albums, is still very much recognizable as her work.  Silent Variations takes the concept a stage further and makes subtle but significant changes to a handful of album tracks, often changing the mood and atmosphere completely.

Following Matthews on her journey of discovery and exploring her next release is often a revelation as you never quite know what to expect but you know it will be equally as captivating and absorbing as her previous output.  Never one to sit still for very long, Matthews is already hard at work on her next album and has a slew of other projects in the pipeline including compilation tracks, a handful of collaborations and a remix album.  Matthews is a truly talented artist who is constantly pushing the boundaries of her musical style.

Paul Lloyd, Igloo Magazine, March 2008




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Susan Matthews
Album: The Silent Architect
Label: Sirenwire

The word experimental can be conjoured up to cover a wide range of ideas, themes and sins. It covers anything from abstract noise thrown together in cacophony, through to minimalist soundscapes. It's a catchall for music that defies conventional description. I don't have the vocabulary to describe it, but then that's half the point. Music doesn't need words to invoke thoughts and feelings. It can affect you without lyrics. "The Silent Architect" is thought provoking and evocative. I just can't decide if I like it.

Neil, Fatea, Jan 2008

Hope-Bound - Reviews

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Susan Matthews : Hope-Bound
Sirenwire Recordings sw74

Hope-Bound (SW74) may be your choice if you’d like something which makes a few more concessions (for example, beats, melodies, keyboards and guitar samples) in favour of conventional song-form, although even here the imagination of Matthews is working hard to give a uniquely ghost-ridden quality to almost every one of these wistful songs. Her use of spectral piano on ‘Veiled’, for example, is sufficient to send shivers along the spine of many a skeleton. And whatever studio devices have been used to make the unholy twisted surfaces of ‘Missing’ make it a composition most worthy of investigation by your personal hearing apparatus. In places here (and on parts of the other albums), she’s coming close to a 21st century update on the great Virginia Astley.

Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, November 2008




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Susan Matthews : Hope-Bound
Sirenwire Recordings sw74

It is always nice to have a little bit of connection with the artist when you purchase one of their albums. Whether buying a Jane Siberry album and finding in the package that she's written a postcard thanking you for supporting her, or buying a Julian Cope album and getting his wife calling you because that CD is out of stock, it all kind of makes the whole experience a bit more personal. Susan Matthews cuts her own CD-Rs, prints out her own artwork and then goes to the post office to send it to you herself, and that's enough to make me feel happy about it. (Yes I am quite easily pleased.) And it is only £3.98, including postage, so being cashless as I am, this seemed like a good buy. Oh, and the fact that musically it sounded like my cup of tea did come into the equation somewhere.

The more experimental type of music can often disappoint: for every album that sounds amazing, there is usually another that is tedious or annoyingly inpenitrable. Thankfully Susan stays the right side of the big sign saying "Failed - please try again". On the odd occasion during this album when I think that the stretchy monster is off to visit Mr. Point, the track ends and another begins. Horrah! Overall the music sort of lurks between Laurie Anderson and Nurse With Wound without actually treading on either of their toes. It is an odd mixture of the uplifting and harsh. Take A Decoy Performance with a dialogue suggesting domestic violence juxtaposed with audience cheering and what sounds like a conversation between grandfather clocks. Or the rather lovely near ambient Missing with a gloopy blobby backdrop of noise trying to bring chaos into beauty. The whole album remains fascinating right up to the lengthy Suffusion with its Nurse With Wound like sound loops collapsing into deep internal organ threatening drones, somewhat akin to Sunn o))). Susan's almost wordless vocals compliment most of the tracks like sweet kisses from that slightly weird Aunt that most of the family shun.

This is definately my favourite album of the moment, so I'm off to spend another £3.98, and so should you.

Boolbar, Boolblog, May 2008




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Susan Matthews - Hope-Bound CDR
Sirenwire Recordings sw74

I don't know what her neighbours think, but I'm oddly reassured to know that this strangely compelling music is being made somewhere in the agreeable west Wales town of Kidwelly. (No, let's use the Welsh name - Cydweli - the English version sounds like something children wear in the rain). Either way, it's not a location I would have identified as a hot bed of left-field sonic singularity, but on this album Susan Matthews has put together a collection of out-there explorations in which ambience and narrative, found sounds and lost noises are somehow hauled together to make something that will stir the thoughts inside your head even as it flicks you round the ear. 'A Decoy Performance' is a deceptive faux-live spoken word piece (at least, I assume the sudden bursts of clapping are not a genuine audience: the applause is used as a sound) which matches gamelan-style clangs and bongs to a genuinely unsettling tale of an escalating man-on-woman fight, all the more disturbung because the voice of the female victim, telling the story, is so calm. She could be decribing the scenery outside her window. 'Veiled' is almost monstic in its haunting drift; a keening, plangent thing that almost sounds like old stonework singing. 'Seven Tears' has a shuddering violin riff (and yes, it is defintiely a riff: if it were an electric guitar we'd be rockin') around which a drum pattern that is more empty space than percussion fits itself. Wind instruments chatter like starlings in a tree, and a story is told in a voice that you can't quite hear. 'Missing' has that AM radio we heard a little earlier on the Colt EP above burbling and crackling away again - it's still not tuned in correctly - as a meticulous guitar picks and plucks. I'm struck by the odd thought that although Susan Matthews and Colt are probably coming in from different angles (Susan from the ambient experimental zone, Colt from rock 'n' roll) they are heading for some sort of metaphysical collision. Maybe they should listen to each other's music. 'A Dysfunctional Hush' is all disembodied voices, colliding and whispering and sounds hum and whirr, while 'Suffusion' could be mutant bluegrass, a gusting wind blowing the sound of a distant hoedown across the railway line from Pembroke Dock as the night gathers in. No, it's not rock 'n' roll - not even close - but these anomalous atmospheres have their own nerves-and-nightmares charm. I'm left with the thought that Susan Matthews is probably the coolest thing in Cydweli.

Uncle Nemesis, Nemesis To Go, Issue 5, April 2008




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Susan Matthews - Hope-Bound CDR
Sirenwire Recordings sw74

Susan Matthews is a composer residing in South Wales who produces music filled with complex clouds of melody, harmony and ambience.  Her rolling instrumentation and swirling vocals produce a psychedelic and esoteric folk music that occupies the perceptual hinterland between free-music and  composition.  There is an exoticism at the core of Matthews compositions that is infused with the aromas of unfamiliar herbs and spices. There is a familiarity, shades of Irish, English and Arabian music, present that is always slightly, and ever so tantalisingly, out of reach. Matthews introduces us to a world of dream, illusion, transience and flux.  A world that is more often read than heard.  A world that I will be revisiting often.

Ian, Wonderful Wooden Reasons, Jan 2008




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Susan Matthews - Hope Bound CD
Siren Wire Recordings, 2007

She is mystery personified. There is an aura about her that I find fascinating and captivating in equal measure. She appears fragile looking in her photographs yet a strength of will undeniably shines through. There’s a strange sexuality to her music and holds me spellbound. She is a mass of contradictions that I just can’t seem to decipher. I look into her eyes and see a million stories unfolding waiting to be told. She forever remains an out of reach enigma…only being touched by her hand through the dynamic sounds she creates. It was always meant to be this way.

Once upon a time Susan Matthews was a music journalist, which makes writing this review harder than ever knowing she will laugh at my inept musings, before she decided to get personally involved in creating her own music. In 2005 she set up her own record label, thus bypassing the bullshit and hassles that she knew existed within the music industry, and called it Siren Wire. Read into that name what you will. Her debut release was titled ‘SirenWire 69’ and had the catalogue number SW69. The sexual context within the catalogue number which is very hard to ignore. Soixante-neuf anyone. She followed that recording with ‘Bruiser’ and the EP’s ‘Botanical Rites’, ‘Tiny Grief’ and ‘Lost Sorrows’. All those recordings defining and redefining her own unique sound and style whilst progressing through the many phases in her musical development until we reach her latest offering ‘Hope-Bound’…and the best place for anyone unaware of her talents to begin with. Although to really appreciate her full range you should try and get all her previous releases I hasten to add. They are mesmerising on so many levels. But this review isn’t about her past work. Instead I must concentrate on ‘Hope-Bound’ and try and elucidate just how important a release this is.

Susan works principally within the ‘cross experimental / Avant-Garde’ music genres. She employs a very minimal stance to the eight song structures composed here and her dulcet vocal inflections are most ethereal / surreal in delivery. Part story teller and part confessional her music reaches into you and tugs at the heartstrings…which turns on a sixpence within the flash of an eye to become a creepy scary atmosphere as if she has donned the cape of a bunny boiler or a victim of circumstances beyond her control. Each piece of music drags you into her realms of fantasy and reality in ways that my words can’t do full or adequate justice to. Utilising simply drum patterns, piano, various instruments…some of which I can’t figure out and a multitude of electronics and effects, including a very nice looped piece to finish off, her vocal delivery is either softly spoken, manipulated or tragic angelically sung throughout. She manages to hold your attention, occasionally putting the vocals way back in the mix so you are forced to intently listen to her, as her serenades beguile and pique your interest in the subject matters she allows you to explore with her. I feel that divulging any more in regards to this aspect of ‘Hope-Bound’ would rightly ruin it for you. I’m not a total killjoy you know.

Make no bones about it but Susan Matthews is a serious star on the rise. Rightly she has garnered so much praise from all quarters for her body of work to date. In many ways she reminds me of Laurie Anderson…a comparison which is meant as a serious compliment to Susan’s undoubted talent. ‘Hope-Bound’ is a recording that transcends the whole experimental / Avant-Garde scene. The sheer diversity of her music within ‘Hope-Bound’ makes it, in my opinion, her best recording to date… but you should also seriously invest in her previous releases to see how she has matured and grown in stature since the start of her career. Susan is undoubtedly without equal currently within her musical sphere. I can’t think of anyone who comes close to her. Not even Miss Anderson.

‘Hope-Bound’ is my last ever review for Heathen Harvest as I retire to do other things. I deliberately left reviewing it to last as I wanted to leave on a high. With the scintillating music of ‘Hope-Bound’ still ringing in my ears I give thanks that musicians of the calibre of Susan Matthews exist today to take music to even greater levels of excellence. As Clint rightly would say…‘She has made my day’.

Alan Milne, Heathen Harvest, Dec 2007




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Susan Matthews - Hope Bound CD
Siren Wire Recordings, 2007

"Hope-Bound" is Susan Matthews' third album in as many years, each new release marking a progression and development in sound and expression over the last. As an avant-garde electronic musician, Matthews uses her music to express her thoughts and feelings, taking the music whichever way she feels appropriate. Similarities with other underground or avant-garde groups or musicians can be drawn, but they are purely coincidental as Matthews' music is completely her own.

Introducing the album in familiar style and utilising her haunting vocal style to great effect, album opener "Passionate About You" has an abstract electronic folk feel. The second track - "A Decoy Performance" - is apparently a heartfelt account of domestic violence with spoken word commentary narrating the scene as if from a stage performance. While the music in "A Decoy Performance" is light and melodic, the mood itself is actually tense and sinister with music juxtaposing subject matter and perhaps depicting the happy public image in opposition to the dark, sinister private side the narrative portrays. "Joy's Farewell" is a fitting follow-up to "A Decoy Performance," as its disjointed drumming and swirling electronics provide a disorientating backdrop to Matthews' spoken word vocals, which focus on a woman delivering an ultimatum. With "Veiled," Matthews' melodic piano and beautifully ethereal, almost choral, vocals create a wonderfully gentle track with just a touch of electronic abstraction for good measure. In contrast, "Seven Tears" has an entirely more edgy, anxious and almost break-driven mood about it with several flute-type instruments augmenting the mood, sometimes in an apparently semi-random and uncompromising manner.

Things calm down again for "Missing," which places Matthews' spoken voice and floating harmonies under the crackling feedback of a radio. This slowly dies out, to be replaced with melodic acoustic guitar, Matthews' sung/spoken vocals and sparkling electronics. Showing the diversity of her talent, "A Dysfunctional Hush" is essentially drone-based with hypnotic tones holding the attention while Matthews' manipulated voice adds another level of emotive intensity to the track. A relatively simple idea beautifully executed. Drawing the album to a close is the fourteen-minute "Suffusion" - an electronic track with an insistent loop and attention-grabbing tones and whirs augmented by an equally insistent piano loop and some reversed electronic effects. Each new sound is layered on top of the others, creating a dense mass of hazy electronic chatter, each layer interacting as more sounds are added. Eventually the layers are stripped away and built up again, only to ultimately break down into low rumbling bassy drones. Definitely an avant-garde track to close the album, but also a track that is well structured and a constantly evolving experiment within a set of defined parameters.

"Hope-Bound" appears more positive in mood than Matthews' previous albums but, while the sound is generally more polished, the intensity of feeling and experimental qualities are all still there. Matthews continues to go from strength to strength with each release, offering something new and interesting every time.

She is also hard working, with several projects running in parallel at any given time. Amazingly, Matthews' next album (her second this year), entitled "The Silent Architect," is due for release before Christmas 2007, with an EP of alternate versions of five album tracks entitled "Silent Variations" to be released simultaneously. She is also working on a remix album and has several other projects, compilation tracks and collaborations in the pipeline too.

Paul Lloyd [8/10], Connexion Bizarre, Oct 2007




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Susan Matthews - Hope-Bound
(Pre-release Promo)

"Hope-Bound" begins where "Lost Sorrows" left off but quickly shifts into a new direction, bypassing any sense of security or comfort you may have had by injecting early familiar sounds with new and unexpected movements. By track three, you're somewhere else completely. It's possibly her best work to date. It's certainly her most accessible in terms of sound composition, some of these tracks are almost song-like, and even the title might suggest an about turn, that she's going to be crawling back out of the rabbit hole. Don't let her fool you, she's probably just found something down there worth smiling about. And it doesn't really matter which way you're facing, when she's got her fingers pressed this close to your nerve endings the journey up is always going to be as intense as the journey down.

"Hope-Bound" should secure Susan as a leading figure in whatever industrial/ethereal avant garde music movement eventually attaches itself to her, because right now she's out on her own and way ahead of the pack. You can't pigeon hole her material. You could say it's part Eraserhead, part fairytale, part domestic horror story, but you'd only be scratching the surface. Susan is not currently playing by anyone else's rules and the result is unique and brilliant. Filmmakers and sound editors start taking notes. Lynch-Heads stop and listen.

Dan Scaffer, LiveJournal, May 2007

Botanical Rites - Reviews

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This is a review of 'Botanical Rite No.1' from it's inclusion on the '50bpm or Less' Compilation:

'The closing track is something to marvel at, done by Susan Matthews' it's a beautiful piano piece that soon has soft scratching sounds fading into the background. Ever listen to Eno's "Music For Airports"? It's right up there. An excellent closing track and one of my favourite I've heard in a while, from anyone'

Mark Meloche, June 2007

Lost Sorrows - Reviews

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Susan Matthews –‘Lost Sorrows’ CDr

Susan Matthews’s music meets at a cross roads between ambient, noise, and sound-art and this is her fifth release on her own label. The five tracks here are weaved from melancholy piano patterns fed through feed back fuzz, downbeat organ unfolds and pained noise edges, with haunting  emotional harmonies bobbing up here & there. This is beautiful sad and pained music that has real feeling and depth to it - at times the emotional honesty she has fed into the music almost makes one want to cry.  Though this only is just short of 20 minutes running time it feels just right, if there had been anymore it could well have become too much & drowned in it’s own gloomy beauty as it stands it’s a startling emotional and beautiful audio ride.

Roger Batty
Judas Kiss Magazine, Dec 2007  




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Susan Matthews - Lost Sorrows EP, 2007

Dans une veine plus expérimentale, SUSAN MATTHEWS parfait les contours accidentés de son art intimiste. Dès "blistered sunlight", le piano grésille sous une masse de saturation issue d’un passé fait de douleur et se réconcilie avec les gémissements séducteurs d’un esprit désincarné, suspendu dans l’air électrifié tel une âme regardant fixement vers le bas sur son corps par elle abandonné. Conjurant un au-delà sonique de hantise, dérivant, rêveur, menaçant et maléfique, constitué de drones épaisses, grondantes et vrombissantes que vient tempérer un filet de vocalises aériennes , Lost Sorrows expose admirablement une suite cohérente d’ambiance sereines en dépit de son agencement complexe et confus. Les morceaux naissent dans le silence le plus complet, duquel monte lentement un sifflement désorientant et plaintif jusqu’à essaimer en crescendo des drones renversantes déchiré par des incantations désolées, avant de soigneusement retomber dans ses stoïques brumes muettes. En ce 18 mai, rien ne saurait mieux tomber à point pour oublier l’anniversaire du décès d’Ian Curtis. Grazie mille.

Amadeo In_tensioN, May 2007

Translation: In a more experimental vein, [{{SUSAN MATTHEWS}} - http://www.sirenwire.com] perfects the broken contours of her intimate art. With "blistered sunlight", the piano crackles under a mass of saturation resulting from a past made of pain and is reconciled with the tempting moanings of a disembodied spirit, suspended in the air 'n' electrified like a soul fixedly looking downwards on its abandoned body. Conjuring a sonic, drifting, dreamy, threatening and malefic here-after, made up of thick drones, thundering and humming that a net of soaring singing exercises comes to moderate, {Lost Sorrows} admirably exposes a coherent continuation of serene environment in spite of its complex set-up. The pieces are born in the most complete silence, slowly growing into a disorientating and plaintive whistle until it blooms in a crescendo of astounding sounds torn by afflicted 'n' desolate incantations, before carefully falling down in its stoical silent fogs. On this 18th of May, nothing could come at a better time to help and forget the anniversary of Ian Curtis' death. Grazie Mille.




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Susan Matthews – Lost Sorrows EP CD
Siren Wire Recordings, 2007
www.sirenwire.com

My own discovery of Susan Matthews’ work came when I was given the opportunity to review her second album, Bruiser. After listening to some of the tracks on her Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/susanmatthews) I was happy to have been given a chance to investigate her music in more detail. Stylistically, Matthews’ work is avant garde and experimental, drawing you in with its careful construction and considered content. She is also not afraid to push boundaries and explore new sounds, moods and forms of expression through her music and the end result is something quite original and engaging. Lost Sorrows is an 18 minute CD EP that follows Matthews’ second album, Bruiser, on her own Siren Wire Recordings label. With her third album due later this year, Lost Sorrows may hint at what to expect.

Heavy on atmosphere, sometimes awash with decaying distortion and often accompanied with her own ethereal vocal tones, Lost Sorrows runs through a range of moods and feelings in its duration. Opening with the distorted piano melodies of “Blistered Sunlight”, the EP gets off to an uneasy and melancholic start. The mood becomes more ominous with the low mechanical grind of “On a Theme of Falling” and is enhanced towards its close by Matthews’ own wonderfully folk styled vocal accompaniment. The theme is continued through into “A Passionate Hush” which takes elements of the two preceding tracks and fuses them together to form a wonderful whole; low swirling distortion, deranged piano and other-worldly vocals coming in and out of the mix. The end result turns “A Passionate Hush” into something of an enigma; on one hand it could be deemed disturbing and ghostly yet on another it is strangely comforting and absorbing. It is at this point that Matthews treats us to the beautifully gentle ambience of the wonderfully titled “My Name is Safe in Your Mouth”. Resembling the big warm sound of a church organ, it emanates waves of floating sound from beginning to end. The EP ends much as it started with the distorted piano of “Blistered Moonlight”; the last tune of a late night’s playing reflecting the worries and thoughts of the player one last time before the end of another day and the notes are erased by electronic distortion.

Matthews appears to use her music to exorcise her demons and bear her soul, expressing anger, frustration, serenity, dejection and everything in between through her work. Often emotive and always intense, each track has its own mood and identity but all bear the hallmarks of her unique experimental sensibilities.

-- Paul Lloyd [8/10]
Connexion Bizarre, April 2007




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Susan Matthews - Lost Sorrows
Siren Wire Recordings 2007

Susan continues to dig through the rabbit hole, picking scabs and crawling in and out of our head machinery. Beautiful, desolate and intoxicating work.

Dan Scaffer, LiveJournal March 2007

'bruiser' - Reviews

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Susan Matthews – Bruiser
CD, Siren Wire Recordings, 2006

Although she started her career in music journalism, UK-based Susan Matthews began composing her own avant-garde experimental music in 1999. Primarily recording music for art events and multi-media installations, Matthews went on to set up her own record label, Siren Wire Recordings, in 2005. It was for this label that she released her debut album SirenWire69 and now releases her second album, Bruiser.

Matthews’ work concentrates on atmosphere, mood and the use of voices in different ways alongside electronic manipulation and a touch of distortion in all manner of interesting and creative ways. “Truth” for example consists almost entirely of layered voices which are initially quite ethereal and beautiful but are then enhanced by electronic interference. In contrast, “Hushed Corrosive/Lifelore” that follows it is a denser, busier experiment in fast electronically created tones over low background drones. The resultant effect provides a sense of urgency with a lingering air of ominous fear which eventually gives way to the static fuzz of a melancholic cinematic soundtrack complete with a heartfelt answer phone message and babies crying. It is around this point that the mood gets considerably darker and more sinister, exhibiting a sense of horror movie tension and imminent danger. “Fortune” changes direction again, this time focussing solely on the treble recorder as a sound source and exhibiting a traditional rustic charm that wouldn’t be out of place in The Wicker Man. Bringing things back to the digital age once more, “Flinch” again opts for the cinematic route as bell chime electronics and metallic clangs help Matthews’ own brand of dark tension permeate throughout. Showing yet another side to her work, “Ellipse-dream” is a restless track based around a low rhythmic industrial drone. Closing the album as it started, “Mbox” takes strange but delicate reversed music box chimes and pairs them with her own impassioned whispered lyrics. Matthews’ ability to create intensely emotive and atmospheric music perhaps reflects on her ongoing demand for art and installation work. The combination of her music with the right art installation has the potential to be a potent mix.

Matthews’ work provides an intensely personal insight into her thoughts and feelings and this in turn creates a level of intimacy and feeling with each track. Whilst undeniably dark in nature, Bruiser is experimental and not afraid to play with sound and effects to achieve the desired result. It is the sort of album that has hidden depths that slowly reveal themselves on each listen. On occasion, particularly on “Mbox” and “Mbox 2”, Matthews’ vocal whisperings bear some resemblance to the impassioned lyrics of Coil’s late great Jhonn Balance in nature. Praise indeed.

-- Paul Lloyd [7/10]
Connexion Bizarre, Feb 2007




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Susan Matthews – 'Bruiser' CDR
Sirenwire recordings

After the critically acclaimed welcoming of her debut album 'SirenWire69'
UK based avant-garde composer Susan Mathews returns with her second
full-length album 'Bruiser'.

Now the thing I like about Susan which has to be said before we go any
further is her unpretentiousness. It's the way she produces her own
recordings simply because she wants to. It's not a case of trying to be
cool or quirky or different or that her recordings are going to make her
rich. It's just the case that Susan wants to record the music that she has
buried deep inside of her soul. And this passion and simplicity of
purpose shines through in every element of this CD. Whether it be the
home-made sleeve or the professional look of the CDR or the myriad of
compositions that make up 'Bruiser', you get the impression that its all
done because Susan wants or needs to and for no other reason. And because
of this I can't help but have the up most respect for what Susan does and
how she does it. Ok now that's said on with the review.

Still encased in shrouds of the abstract 'Bruiser' pulls together ten
tracks that span a huge array of sounds, ideas and structures in their
composition and presentation. From the delectate folky sounds of the
flute based track 'Fortune' to the haunting piano and voice assemble of
'Summers Over' to the childlike qualities and distorted nightmarishness of
'mbox 2', 'Bruiser' takes a complex spectrum of sounds, sources, vocals,
samples and manipulated noises which Susan delicately moulds in to self
contained snippets of ideas that make up each track.

Like the blurred reality of dreams, Susan's compositions fade in and out
of focus with sounds and noises melting into one anther to create
something completely different and unrecognisable yet somehow familiar.
One minute you'll recognise a sound or fragment of noise and the next it's
gone leaving only the smallest elements of recognition.
The production on 'Bruiser' seems a lot more polished then its predecessor
making the experience of Susan's compositions more crisp and clear.
Likewise the sound and atmosphere of the album has taken on a more mature,
complex and thought out feel to it. All of which adds to the depth and
substance the album presents.

Musically the albums flits between styles and output – from the abstract
soundscapes with distorted vocals of the beautifully haunting 'Hushed
Corrosive/Lifelore' to sound manipulations and noise 'cut-ups', to
delicate ambient washes of sound to more malevolent and dark ambient
soundscapes – all with occasional vocals subtly interwoven within them.
With the themes of parent and child rearing their head and time and time
again there is a very personal element to 'Bruiser' which gently draws the
listener in to Susan's work here.
As with her previous work certain influences are noticeable here – early
Current 93 the experimental edge of early Virgin Prunes and a dash of
Nurse With Wound – but these only act as a general guide line for Susan to
construct her own ideas, influences and feelings into an audible output
which is very much hers alone.

With a diverse, highly interesting and arresting general sound and
atmosphere Susan has managed to put together a wonderfully impressive
album that has more than enough originality and presence about it that it
should hopefully give her the exposure to the wider audience she whole
heartedly deserves to get.
Lee powell Judas Kiss Magazine, February 2007




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Susan Matthews - Bruiser
Siren Wire Recordings

SUSAN MATTHEWS est l’auteur d’une poignée de cdrs disponibles sur cdbaby, dont SirenWire69 et Bruiser . Noyée dans une chape gris sombre (à l’image du design de ses disques), sa musique se veut l’articulation d’un malaise. Ainsi, tout n’est question que d’incision, ablation, forage, raclage, curetage, éviscération ; les variations stéréophoniques agissant comme un scalpel grignotant l’intimité du tympan à grand renfort de grésillements et crépitements numériques. Un déferlement de clics avortés, bleeps sinusoïdaux, fréquences brouillées et compressions vissées jouant sur la différence de volume, d’étirement et de résonance pour mieux décontenancer l’auditoire et forcer son attention. Les boucles dérapent, trébuchent, craquent là où les basses grondent impétueusement, et malgré tout ces stridences demeurent servies par une assise mélodique aux reliefs acérés. La voix affligée et étouffée de Susan traversant ce couloir déformé de pulsations cardiaques sert de fil d’Ariane, ultime trace de vie organique et témoin de vives déchirures (nouvelle forme de beauté prônée par les VIRGIN PRUNES , chant des glaces). "Is it your life i miss when i cry every night ? Is it your voice i hear when i open my lungs ? is it your hope i hear when when i scream out loud ? is it your face i see when i look back in me ?", "mbox" est une comptine déstabilisante pour fausse-couches. L’émotion est froide, mais se montre vite dense et expressive. Superbe. En strates multiples les micro-mouvements numériques enlacent les drones brouillardeuses, puis sous le sédiment de la vie microscopique alternent entre agressions amplifiées et silences cassés ; comme le cadre plus ou moins bien ciselé d’un silence absolu, secrètement recherché...

Amadeo, In_tensioN, November 2006

Translation: SUSAN MATTHEWS is the author of a handle of cdrs (most of them available on cdbaby), among which stand "SirenWire69" and "Bruiser". Drowned under a dark grey avalanche (in the image of her records' artwork), her music aims to express / be the articulation of an uneasiness. Thus everything here is a question of incision, ablation, drilling, scraping, curetting, evisceration; stereophonic variations acting like a scalpel nibbling the eardrums' intimacy with great reinforcement of numerical glitches and cracklings. A surge of aborted clicks, sinusoidal bleeps, scrambled frequencies and screwed compressions exploiting the difference of volume & intensity, stretchings and resonance in order to further disconsert the listener and to force / focus his attention. The loops skid, stumble, crack whilst the bass-sounds impetuously thunder, and in spite of all these stridencies remained served by a luminous melody with sharp-edged reliefs. Susan's afflicted and choked voice crossing this deformed corridor of cardiac pulsations is used as wire of Ariane, ultimate trace of organic and witness of sharp wrenches (new forms of beauty as preached by the VIRGIN PRUNES, song from the ices). "Is it your life I miss when I cry every night? Is it your voice I hear when I open my lungs? is it your hope I hear when when I scream out loud? is it your face I see when I look back in me?", "mbox" is a awe-inspiringly beautiful and destabilizing rhyme for miscarriages. The emotion is cold, but is quickly shown dense, vivid and expressive all at once. Superb. In multiple layers the numerical micro-movements intertwine with foggy drones, and then, under the sediment of the microscopic life, alternate between amplified aggressions and broken silences; just like the framework more or less well-clipped of an absolute silence, secretly required and longed for...




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BRUISER , by Susan Matthews. (CD)

BRUISER follows on directly from Susan's first solo project, SIRENWIRE69 (2005), and takes her hypnotic harmonies and experimental industrial noise to a new level of despair and delight. Intenesly personal, projecting hope and trauma in equal measure, BRUISER tangles the brutal with the fragile in a forbidding texture of sound that penetrates on so many levels at once, it's like being touched by a ghost.

Almost beyond description, BRUISER is the soundtrack to a film you're never likely to see, it's music that pulls abject horror out of the mundane and displays it with the beauty of Silent Hill and the style of David Lynch on one of his moody days. It's totally brilliant, even when it hurts.

Dan Schaffer, Live Journal, October 2006




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'Bruiser' is... simply stunning, even better than 'SirenWire69' if that's possible. Just love the way it builds on the last album but also takes the work in even more interesting directions... Absolutely engaging and beautiful in a melancholic way. A work of importance and inspiration. A major talent indeed.

Shaun Blezard, Earth Monkey Productions, 2006

'SirenWire69' - Reviews

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Susan Matthews – ‘SirenWire 69’ CD (Sirenwire Recordings)

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 third 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.

Lee Powell

Judas Kiss Magazine, Summer 2006

*(a little confusion here as 'SirenWire69' is in fact, my first proper album release)




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Susan Matthews
'SirenWire69'

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




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SUSAN MATTHEWS
SW69

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