24 May 2021 - Ben
Cinematic / Instrumental | Release date: 21 May 2021
Presenting the debut solo record by LA-based Jared Matt Greenberg (Whale Fall, Charles Atlas, The Rosemarys), where our intrepid hero explores hidden pockets of melody and space to bring something different to the post-table.
I won’t hide it… I’m a fan of Whale Fall. When I first heard their 2014 album The Madrean, I was hooked. They took post-rock dynamics – the crescendos and the lulls, the dynamic thrusts and parries – and shot it through with unconventional instrumentation and inspiration. From Middle-Eastern drones to Spanish Cornet to spaced atmospherics, they threw everything into the mix to create an incredible record.
Fast-forward seven years and two excellent Whale Fall albums later (Sondersongs and It Will Become Itself) and we arrive at The Paper Sea and Shadow Falls.
Jared Matt Greenberg is the genius musician behind the keyboards, cornet, glockenspiel and melodica of Whale Fall, and has chosen his debut solo record to take his music into a calmer, more piano-led direction.
Opening track, “Sentient Stars”, sets out the stall for the rest of the album. The song introduces a lilting piano refrain, which moves through tempo and key changes, reflecting the hustle and bustle of transit. In this song, as throughout the album, you’re able to hear reflections of Christopher O’Riley’s Radiohead-reimagined cover album, True Love Waits in the minimal arrangement masking the complexity of the music and the dynamic shifts.
You get a sense with this album that every note, every instrument and every tone has been pored over, that Jared Matt has worked incredibly hard to make sure the sounds you hear are exactly the same as the ones he hears in his head. The way the undulating warmth of the organ responds to the bold cornet of the title song sends shivers down the spine. “Tivoli” greets us with a fairground organ waltz, like a deleted scene from the film Amelie, before breaking into swirling electronica and distant vocals.
These songs could… could have been very samey – they could have followed similar paths, similar tones, similar instrumentation, but what Greenberg has done is create a play. Like a post-rock Carnival of the Animals, each song is a character that brings its own personality to the proceedings, from the gregarious to the withdrawn, from the playful to the crystalline. Each song moves differently to the last one and the next one.
This makes perfect sense considering his work in Whale Fall, where the rule seems to be “No conventionality.” The minute a song starts to sound similar to another, it darts in a different direction.
Like a lot of artists, it seems Jared Matt Greenberg has used the last year or so to mine a seam of intimate creativity and channel his focus toward making an outstanding piece of work. The songs on Shadow Falls meander very pleasantly off the beaten path and return with interesting stories as a result.