North London-based Stevens has made a name for himself on the Interwebs, especially among the avant-garde underground, largely due to savvy social networking. On this quirky, inventive, mostly upbeat, and entirely delightful instrumental album he twists, bends and reshapes his acoustic guitar’s sound via looping and tasteful signal processing, and blends it with touches of electric guitar, glockenspiel, Melodica, and bass. Joining him at various points are drummer Stuart Marshall and percussionist, keyboardist, and drum programmer Kevin Feazey.
The principal hazard of creating loop-based music is that the inherent repetition can easily lead to monotony. Stevens mostly avoids this difficulty by quickly developing new harmonic, melodic, and textural themes on top of—or in place of—the fundamental loops. He also employs very odd time signatures on some pieces, such as 20/8 (“Into the Sea”) and 25/8 (“Ghost”), though he may not count them that way, which helps keep things interesting
While the music occupies its own creative zone, I found myself free associating names such as Brian Eno, John Martyn, Tom Verlaine, Anthony Phillips, Yo La Tengo, Steve Tibbetts, and even Radiohead while listening. And considering that the album was essentially “homemade” using very modest equipment, the recording quality is quite good, and the mixes nicely done.
Should you not care for Stevens’ mixes, however, or think you may be able to do better, he’ll let you remix his tracks and post the results on his Website, mattstevensguitar.com, where some very creative remixes already reside.