Matt Loveridge (a founding member of BEAK>, with Geoff Barrow of Portishead) has all the hallmarks of one of tomorrow’s key cult artists. His latest album (Saint, recorded as MXLX) is his 63rd in two decade, but his best by some margin. In some senses he is an outsider artist, but this idea doesn’t give you the full picture of just how good a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter he is.

Saint sees him reconnect with one of his first musical loves: heavy metal: “My cousin used to babysit me when I was six. He played me a lot of Metallica and it blew my head open; I had no idea music could do that.” He went through a teenage phase of loving Slipknot and Napalm Death and has, in more recent years, tried to capture some of this overwhelming power, in a completely unique form of music which owes just as much to experimental electronic music, English and Indian folk, sea shanties, post rock, noise and techno.

On listening to the opening track from Saint, lead single, ‘Kitab Siriyun’, a joyful life of enheavyment and riffology can be sensed. Seismic doomy riffs with processed black n’ roll drums might sit satisfyingly between the sturm of Kverletak and the drang of Neurosis but that is just a fraction of what is going on here. Buzzing analogue synths beat microtonally against one another creating the sense of marching pipes played in the Middle Ages during wartime, linking Loveridge to a deep folk past and painstakingly recorded harmonised vocals create the sense of a crew of seafarers lost on the waves singing shanties for comfort.

 

The presence of shanties and other forms of rambunctious folk music shouldn’t come as any surprise though. Loveridge grew up in a family that love to play and sing folk. It’s the one type of music that predates even his love for metal. He says his heritage means he was exposed to English, Welsh and Indian forms of orally transmitted song both at home and during the two months of every year he spent living on campsites before eventually leaving home.

Chance lent a hand in the composition Saint. He describes how when he was ready to start on the new record last April, “I accidentally kicked my main synth down the stairs and broke it, so I ended up creating 90% of the sounds on the album using FM synthesis, a process I’d never used before.” He describes all of the preset sounds he was presented with as being “cornball”, so he spent an entire month reprogramming all 32 patches, which then in turn dictated some of the sound of the album.

Out of all of his projects Matt is slowest to take any credit for MXLX (“it’s just my initials with two letter Xs, that’s all”) saying that he is merely a recording device for music that comes from elsewhere: “I trust my body over my head when I’m writing, and my will over my ego. All the music is received or found rather than written; it is beamed down through strange signals. . .The only thing I know for sure is that I’m trying to convey beauty and to communicate the ineffable. There may be themes there to analyse or deconstruct but it’s all occult and unconscious to me. This is what it is. Joy! Pain! Life!” 

Saint is released on November 10 2023 via The state51 Conspiracy and can be pre-ordered HERE

 

 

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