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Reviews
Sieben - Sex and Wildflowers
Friday, March 12 2004 @ 02:14 AM PST
Contributed by: Malahki Thorn

Sex and Wildflowers

Artist: Matt Howden - Sieben United Kingdom

Title: Sex and Wildflowers

Label: Trisol / Iceflower Germany

Genre: Neoclassical / Neoflok

Sex and Wildflowers is Matt’s fifth release under the moniker of Sieben and is his most innovative work to date.

Sex and Wildflowers is a musical exploration of human sexuality and wildflowers through lyricism and music. The theme is inspired by the many wildflowers whose common names have sexual references. Matt Howden has collected wildflowers with provocative names and weaved around them lyrical ballads that are filled with passion, lust and rage.

The musical compositions that support the illustrative lyricism where created as live performance pieces. Matt Howden originally composed the entire album on his violin. Including plucking strings and thumping the body of the violin to produce percussive elements. In its original format the album was meant to be able to be played in segments by foot peddle to augment Matt Howden’s live performances. Matt has reworked the original recordings for the studio album and has added additional instrumentation to replace elements that where originally performed exclusively on the violin.

Sex and Wildflowers is the high point of Matt Howden’s career. Having developed an individual approach deeply rooted in the neoclassical / neofolk music movement Matt has managed to produce an album of stunning originality. Matt draws upon elements of folk, classical and psychedelic rock & roll. Sex and Wildflowers embodies an energy and vitality that has now become the unique signature of Matt Howden.

Track 1 titled “Spring Snowdrop” is the introduction track. Spring Snowdrop is a beautiful and timid introduction to the album. The song focuses upon the natural renewal process of spring. The song’s title flower the Spring Snowdrop is one of many early spring wildflowers that heralds the return of the sun. Spring Snowdrops rise from the cold earth while there is still snow upon the ground.

The song begins with a single sustained note played upon the violin. Clear and sure the note rings out like a call into the sleepy dark. The call is answered by additional violin tracks that seamlessly fall into formation. The soft velvet sigh of woodwinds hesitantly joins the flight of sounds. The song advances ever so softly and timidly. As to not awaken those still slumbering in winter’s lingering chill. Matt’s voice cascades forth over the delicate ensemble like a gentle ripple over water. The invocation begins as voice, violin and wind instruments weave a spell of awakening. “We who sleep must now awake, those who rest we set to work” The song remains gentle and timid throughout. Showcasing Matt’s ability to create soft romantic ballads capable of transporting the listener to the first stirrings of spring and the return of the sun.

The fifth song on the album “John in the Pulpit” is anything but timid. John in the Pulpit is an excellent example of the great range and diversity of Sex and Wildflowers. Embodying an almost primal sexual energy “John in the Pulpit” thrusts the listener into an almost frenzied rage of lust and passion. The song begins with the strumming of an electric bass guitar. The mood emitted is somber and serious. A fiery violin descends to join the bass followed by electronically generated sounds and voice manipulation samples. The track begins to intensify in darkness as a sinister psychedelic guitar takes lead of the music. Matt voice is now more raw and desperate. His voice rises to keep pace with the dark and passionate psychedelic rock anthem. “John in the Pulpit” is a much needed break from the other violin dominated tracks. The song is also a great opportunity for Matt to break out of the neofolk and neoclassical confines and bring new energy to his compositions.

Track seven also caught my attention. Titled “Deadly Nightshade” I was curious to hear how Howden would approach a plant with such a poisonous reputation. Matt treads boldly into the darkness of human sexuality and love in the track “Deadly Nightshade.” He produces a song that transmits a side of lust and love many would rather not acknowledge. Love that wounds, love that smothers and love that is inevitably entwined with pain is the subject matter of this dark ballad.

“Deadly Nightshade” weaves violin, bass, cello and percussion in a dark neoclassical gem with deep tribal influences. The song inspires visions of gypsies whirling in circles around blazing bonfires invoking love magick under the stars. Matt’s balance between instrumentation and vocals grants the music the music room to breathe and communicate free of vocals. The song is strong and provocative. It once again highlights the diversity of thought and composition that grace this album.

I recommend this album to all the obvious Faeries. If you like neoclassical or neofolk music this is a must have title. If your new to the genre this is a lively and innovative release that successfully harnesses the very best of the neoclassical and neofolk genre. Anyone with a love of the violin will also want to get this album. Outside of Classical music we are mostly deprived of hearing this fabulous instrument. Faeries with a love of wildflowers, which I imagine there must be many of us, will find the theme of the work engaging. Faeries looking for music that celebrates sexuality, nature and our interwoven lives will find this release both appealing and magickal.

Faeries that practice magickal plant lore and plant based healing arts will find this album to be inspiring. Faeries exploring spiritual themes of natural renewal, death, lust and love will find this album contains many a lyrical musing and mediation on such subjects. And lastly faeries that use plant and flower imagery in love spells, curses, etc. may find a song or two on hear to be valuable in rendering your work.

     


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