1 review »It's 5am on Friday morning and I'm wide awake - what more perfect time to write about Matt Berry's latest offering 'Music for Insomniacs'? Now those of you with long memories may recall that I was a bit disappointed by his last one 'Kill The Wolf', with too many guitars, not enough synths and some recycled ideas rendering it an inconsistent shadow of the uniformly wonderful 'Witchazel' which prece ... »
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Music For Insomniacs by Matt Berry 1 review. Add your own review. 9/10
9/10 Mike Staff review, 09 May 2014It's 5am on Friday morning and I'm wide awake - what more perfect time to write about Matt Berry's latest offering 'Music for Insomniacs'? Now those of you with long memories may recall that I was a bit disappointed by his last one 'Kill The Wolf', with too many guitars, not enough synths and some recycled ideas rendering it an inconsistent shadow of the uniformly wonderful 'Witchazel' which preceded it (and indeed his cult TV classic 'AD/BC'). It's almost as if Berry read my review and agreed, because this time around he's come up with something that's directly up my street - an LP created at home on sleepless nights featuring two side-long tracks with lots of synths and no guitars, inspired by greats like Mike Oldfield, Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre and with a healthy nod to library music and film soundtracks (and indeed a couple of woozy, vocodered snippets of previous work, most notably 'October Sun' which closes the album). It's really nicely put together. Berry's list of synthesizers he used is a bit jealousy-inducing; there's about 20 including an Arp Odssey, Solina String Ensemble, Minimoog, Mellotron, Roland Mars, Jupiter, Juno...sorry, I'm salivating a little, but my point is there are a lot of sounds on here. Regular collaborator Cecilia Fage's familiar voice appears in places doing some wordless crooning, very effective in the uneasy Italo-horror-ish opening fanfare, which isn't the only part of this first side that makes me think he's been listening to Morricone and Goblin. Generally this side is slower and more atmospheric, providing first horror movie chills and then later some spiritual new age drone meditations and showing off Berry's skill for layering tones in dense, pleasing formations. Over on the other side there's a nice winding little organ line like John Carpenter came from Canterbury, over which some soft droning synths and angelic vocal "ahhh"s and bubbling little cosmic arpeggios keep piping in, first taking it in a conventional film score direction and then unexpectedly turning slightly dubby...there's a giant build up towards the end of the LP which is cleverly laced with field recorded samples of human chatter and laughter and neighing horses, some of which are strangely familiar from his previous works, before he sings us out with the aforementioned 'October Sun', vocodered into incomprehensibility with handclaps and 'A Place In The Sun'-esque twinkling synth arpeggios. Basically if you're into his song-based work this may be a bit of a shock to the system, since the pieces are very lengthy and Berry studiously avoids placing any focus on his voice or lyrics, but I personally see it as a bit of a return to form. Or maybe I just prefer his more solitary home-recorded stuff to his studio collaborations. Either way, this is a marvellous concoction; fans of Library synths and elaborate proggy ambience, get involved!
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