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Inspired by a visit to the "medieval capital of Bulgaria", Susan Matthews has made three pieces with the abstract song balladry of Grouper or Ilyas Ahmed, her piano and electronics meandering through light fuzz bursts -- occasionally, her pieces become more formally songbased, with the poem central to "A Room of Lights" creating something of a desperate lullaby. These hypnotic half compositions dangle about like the leaning, mismatched buildings on the record's front cover.

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From Veliko by Susan Matthews 1 review. Add your own review. 7/10
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7/10 Staff review, 16 August 2016

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.



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