|YOGA||Recurring Dreams (1981)||
Traveler's Advisory (1986)
Major shifts in style seem to be almost exclusively the provence of major artists -- think of The Beatles pre and post marijuana, or the way the Beastie Boys went from frat rap to 70s revivalists to garage rockers in the course of three albums. No private press artist has ever switched up the groove as throughly as Matthew Young did between his two magnificent albums Recurring Dreams (1981) and Traveler's Advisory (1986). Dreams is a moody, nocturnal electronic album, and Advisory is a totally unique mix of vocals, hammered dulcimer, banjo, Casio synth, and drum machines.
Young is a consummate artist and a true original. He played every instrument and home recorded both albums himself. Aside from a few traditionals and one cover version, Young composed everything on both albums. A graphic designer by trade, he created the covers for both albums. The haunting song Young chose to cover, 'Werewolf,' comes from another original, Michael Hurley, approximately 20 years before Hurley came back into fashion with the kids.
So much private press music comes off as the result of some sort of vanity -- "private press" is often nothing more than code for "vanity press." Hearing these albums, one is struck by the vivid image of an artist who is full of ideas and learning how to express them as he goes along out of a sense of necessity. Young is receiver and transmitter of strange ideas drifting in the ether, and renders them quite understandable to any open-minded listener. Of all the many albums I'm presenting on this label, few have grabbed non-collectors the way these two have. You may not think you need a '12th century electronic folk album' in your life, but you do.
I used to have certain dreams that began in childhood and reappeared off and on for years. They were an important part of my internal world and sense of self, and I can still recall them. Not the kind of thing that can be adequately communicated in words, but perhaps suggested in tone poems.
Random track notes: 'Mistral' is self-evident: approaching, swirling, passing. 'First Blood' makes reference to the Doors' 'Spanish Caravan,' which in turn is based on 'Asturias (Layenda)' by Albeniz. 'Version, Inversion' establishes a sequential line and then turns it upside down in the second half (a technique used again in the song "Dummy Line" on Traveler's Advisory). 'The Forest of Lilacs' is the centerpiece, an ambitious attempt to retell in music the terrifying fairy tale "Bonne Biche et Beau Minon" by Sophie Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur (and to suggest the extraordinary illustrations by Virginia Frances Sterrett.)
I fell in love with the hammered dulcimer. Since I also play the banjo, I decided to explore my interest in folk and blues, with electronics accompanying and filling in for other traditional instruments.
Random track notes: 'Objects in Mirror' quotes selectively (but verbatim) from my old Toyota car manual. The version of 'Kyrie' uses of tape delay to get a good rhythm going on a old plainchant. 'Werewolf': Michael Hurley has written some of the best and most eccentric songs of the last 50 years. 'Dummy Line' is a traditional cautionary song my father used to sing. I always found the words much darker than the tune – it's a song about foolishness resulting in death – so I gave them my own musical setting. 'None Born Wise' is my attempt at a composition for the santoor, the Indian version of the hammered dulcimer.
I hope this helps.