11 Mar 2016

Matt Corby / Telluric (album review)

Two years ago, in an LA studio Matt Corby decided to scrap his debut album, deciding that it wasn't something he has any desire to release. He retreated into himself, almost disappearing for two years to align his thoughts and start again. The result of this change of heart is the epic Telluric, a record laden with soulful melodies, psychedelic funk, startling jazz beats and gorgeous vocals. 

It's an album that was well worth waiting for, it's an intricately clever tapestry of music that Matt has so lovingly given to the world.  The title of the album, Telluric, means 'of the earth', which fits the lyrical themes of human connection and nature, and reflect it's earthy, roots sound. The artwork for the LP is stunning, created by Gary Burden, who has worked with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Conor Oberst and Kurt Vile, it perfectly reflects the funky psychedelic groove of the album. Telluric has a very different vibe to a lot of Corby's previous releases, there is no 'Brother'-like anthem on this record, which in my opinion just demonstrates how much more accomplished Matt Corby is as a musician and artist now. Listening to this album is so exciting, if he's making music like this now, I can't even comprehend what kind of album this guy could be releasing in 10 years' time.

The album begins with Belly Side Up, which kicks off with a theremin-sounding wooze before building into a smooth jazz track, with Corby's vocals barely scratching the surface of what they can do. Monday is a track recorded entirely without instrumentation, it's purely delectable harmonies, clicks and foot stomping. The gospel tinge on this track demonstrates the huge span of influences Matt has, it's a glimpse of how vast this album is. Corby's music doesn't fit into a box, there are so many genres in the blood of Telluric; it's astounding. Sooth Lady Wine and Knife Edge are jazzy, they meander through the ears, smooth and accomplished. Throughout the LP Corby plays with rhythm and flow, with crazy time signatures, grooving bass lines and tracks speeding and slowing when you least expect it. 

Oh, Oh, Oh is perhaps the weakest track on the album, but it's still a solid performance, an is the only place where the quality of songs dips, it just falls slightly flat in comparison to the other swirling epics on the album. The vocals are sublime, Corby has such depth and range to his voice, at times verging on the edge of being as good as Jeff Buckley's voice.  The vocal acrobatics paired with clever, witty and poignant lyrics are a dream. Towards the end of the record we are transported to a psychedelic wonderland, with Do You Harm beginning like a Tame Impala song with jazz percussion behind it. All the tracks bend and whirl, growing in their own way and blossoming into flowers of soulful smooth jazz twinged funk. 

The second half of Telluric is definitely the strongest, with We Could Be Friends delivering a funky, smooth 70's baseline, and insane drop at the end, and again with the range of this guy's voice. It's just so damn impressive. The way he almost screams the lyrics at the end emphasises the amount of energy and passion he puts into his music. This for me, it the best song of the album, it’s so groovy, again blowing your mind with the stuttering, ever-changing rhythm, it flows almost like a rap record. It's Good To Be Alone is the one track on the album that is most like his older stuff, and it's incredibly beautiful; the haunting track focuses mainly on Matt velveteen voice and is extremely atmospheric, it will be an amazing live track. The lyrics are heart-breaking, making it all the more special. The closing track, Empires Attraction is almost R&B, it's that smooth, it's a fitting end for this record. It pulses with more politically edged lyrics, really showing Corby's prowess as a songwriter. 

At this point it's important to also talk about the instrumentation on this album, it’s utterly fantastic. From the synthy keys, killer baselines and the drumming. Oh, the drumming, it’s on another level at times. More to the point, Matt’s guitar playing has clearly improved tremendously since he was last making and releasing music. Clearly, everyone on this album is a very highly accomplished musician, and together they are making some remarkable sounds. Having seen Matt in November last year, I can safely say that all his recorded stuff takes on a new meaning live, everything is stepped up completely. His voice is a roar and the music becomes a beast, almost impossible to tame but the band keep in control of it just enough for it to see make a huge impact. 

Telluric is an amalgamation of genres, it's like nothing else out there at the minute. Matt Corby has crafted his own sound, hollowing it out from the wood of everything he's released before this point to create something truly remarkable. He is shaking up the world just a little bit at a time. The sounds coming out of this album are complex and enticing, there are so many layers that you continue to hear something new on each listen. The first time I listened to this album, I liked it, and every time I have heard it since then it’s only improved. It’s a grower of an album that starts off good and by the third or fourth listen, it’s phenomenal. I obviously have no idea what the scrapped album was going to sound like, but I’m very glad it led to this, because this is something very special. Corby has released something here, which is going to make people sit up and pay attention to him. In my opinion this is set to be an album of the year, it has to be. This is a debut album, yet it sounds like it was made by a musician who has been crafting his sound for decades. Telluric should cement Corby as a highly accomplished musician, with a hell of a lot to offer. 


Words: Rachel Tindall