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Matt Berry - The Blue Elephant

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The Blue Elephant

Matt Berry

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Matt Berry's musical career has bounced from style to style like a hyperactive record collector showing off all their latest finds during a late-night listening session. His previous album Phantom Birds was a low-key journey through country-rock and singer/songwriter territory, handled as ably as usual. Faced with more downtime than expected the next year when England went into lockdown, he decided to take a trip back into the heyday of late-'60s psychedelic pop on The Blue Elephant, diving in headfirst and bringing back armloads of paisley-clad treasures. Berry uses every trick in the book on the record, sending songs through the flange cycle, dumping the vocals into giant vats of reverb, coating guitars in crispy fuzztones, and generally sounding like he's having a blast using every piece of gear in his collection. The tracks run from skittery jazz-rock interludes ("Safe Passage") to garage-dwelling blues-rockers ("Blues Inside Me"), jangling sunshine psych ("Summer Sun") to moodily introspective ballads ("Life Unknown"), and darkly funky tracks that sound like his audition for the Stones Throw label ("Now Disappear") to a bunch of songs that hit the sweet spot where psychedelia and prog meet up to create something nicely weird. Berry's vocals fit remarkably well with this style of music. Where sometimes his stentorian tones have threatened to overwhelm his more gentle songcraft in the past, here going over the top a little isn't only a plus, it's almost required. To match his strong vocals, Berry's guitar playing is more robust than ever. He handles nimble leads, chunky proto-metal power chords, and stabs of psych noise like a master fencer, jabbing straight into the listener's gut. His arrangements are master-class level too. He's obviously spent a great deal of time absorbing the great records of the era and pays loving tribute to them without sounding like he's merely making a photocopy. To that end, he mashes together styles and sounds in always interesting fashion while filling the arrangements with surprising moments and a satisfying richness. Whether it's a Rod Argent-worthy organ solo, a bit of blaring marching band horns, some spooky vocoded vocals, or Mellotron choirs from on high, Berry paints with a splashy hand, filling the canvas with great swaths of sound and color. Adding to the impact is the very active drumming of Craig Blundell, whose whirlwind style makes it sound like he's being paid by the snare hit. He never overpowers the songs, though, and the sheer exuberance he brings powers the record like a giant turbine engine. Berry has never made a bad album; in fact, his career has been consistently impressive. Now, with The Blue Elephant he has made something bordering on greatness, where his skills at creating sound are allowed to fully flower, his songs have grown deeper roots, and the pairing with Blundell borders on brilliant.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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The Blue Elephant

Matt Berry

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1
Aboard
00:02:00

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

2
Summer Sun
00:03:55

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

3
Safe Passage
00:01:37

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

4
Now Disappear
00:02:47

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

5
Alone
00:03:52

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

6
Invisible
00:02:36

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

7
Blues Inside Me
00:05:14

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer - Rosie McDermott, FeaturedArtist

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

8
I Cannot Speak
00:02:35

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

9
The Blue Elephant
00:04:32

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

10
Life Unknown
00:04:16

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

11
Safer Passage
00:01:27

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

12
Like Stone
00:03:15

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

13
Story Told
00:02:31

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

14
Forget Me
00:03:03

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

15
Now Disappear (Again)
00:02:09

Matt Berry, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, MixingEngineer

2021 Acid Jazz Records 2021 Acid Jazz Records

Album Description

Matt Berry's musical career has bounced from style to style like a hyperactive record collector showing off all their latest finds during a late-night listening session. His previous album Phantom Birds was a low-key journey through country-rock and singer/songwriter territory, handled as ably as usual. Faced with more downtime than expected the next year when England went into lockdown, he decided to take a trip back into the heyday of late-'60s psychedelic pop on The Blue Elephant, diving in headfirst and bringing back armloads of paisley-clad treasures. Berry uses every trick in the book on the record, sending songs through the flange cycle, dumping the vocals into giant vats of reverb, coating guitars in crispy fuzztones, and generally sounding like he's having a blast using every piece of gear in his collection. The tracks run from skittery jazz-rock interludes ("Safe Passage") to garage-dwelling blues-rockers ("Blues Inside Me"), jangling sunshine psych ("Summer Sun") to moodily introspective ballads ("Life Unknown"), and darkly funky tracks that sound like his audition for the Stones Throw label ("Now Disappear") to a bunch of songs that hit the sweet spot where psychedelia and prog meet up to create something nicely weird. Berry's vocals fit remarkably well with this style of music. Where sometimes his stentorian tones have threatened to overwhelm his more gentle songcraft in the past, here going over the top a little isn't only a plus, it's almost required. To match his strong vocals, Berry's guitar playing is more robust than ever. He handles nimble leads, chunky proto-metal power chords, and stabs of psych noise like a master fencer, jabbing straight into the listener's gut. His arrangements are master-class level too. He's obviously spent a great deal of time absorbing the great records of the era and pays loving tribute to them without sounding like he's merely making a photocopy. To that end, he mashes together styles and sounds in always interesting fashion while filling the arrangements with surprising moments and a satisfying richness. Whether it's a Rod Argent-worthy organ solo, a bit of blaring marching band horns, some spooky vocoded vocals, or Mellotron choirs from on high, Berry paints with a splashy hand, filling the canvas with great swaths of sound and color. Adding to the impact is the very active drumming of Craig Blundell, whose whirlwind style makes it sound like he's being paid by the snare hit. He never overpowers the songs, though, and the sheer exuberance he brings powers the record like a giant turbine engine. Berry has never made a bad album; in fact, his career has been consistently impressive. Now, with The Blue Elephant he has made something bordering on greatness, where his skills at creating sound are allowed to fully flower, his songs have grown deeper roots, and the pairing with Blundell borders on brilliant.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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