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Susan Matthews - Hope-Bound
Saturday, December 01 2007 @ 01:00 AM PST
Contributed by: Alan Milne


Artist: Susan Matthews United Kingdom

Title: Hope-Bound

Genre: Minimal / Avant-Garde / Ambient / Ethereal / Experimental

01 Passionate about you
02 A Decoy Performance
03 Joy’s Farewell
04 Veiled
05 Seven Tears
06 Missing
07 A Dysfunctional Hush
08 Suffusion

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’.


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