Matt Marble - The Living Mirror (The Crystal Cabinet)

Matt Marble – The Living Mirror (The Crystal Cabinet)

New labels are exciting. They usher in an unlimited amount of promise. Much like a new exercise book at the start to term. They are unblemished. They haven’t been smudged or had corrections. New labels are pristine. There isn’t that release that didn’t happen or the one the label heads wish hadn’t. They are especially exciting if the person running it had a great ear for special. The Crystal Cabinet is an example of these. Run by the musician experimental musician Lucy Adlington, the label has put out its first release, a cassette titled The Living Mirror by guitarist Matt Marble.

The album lives up to its title as The Living Mirror features eight songs that mirror each other. Well, technically there are only four songs, but there is an A and B version of each of the songs. The B versions aren’t as literal as being backwards versions of the A versions, but they have enough in common, whilst being different, that they feel like their own songs, rather than reworkings of the acoustic guitar improvisations. The first time I listened to the album I didn’t realise they were the same songs. The standout tracks are ‘Spoke of Dew’ and ‘Wheelworker.’ There is something fragile about these songs, like they have been created out of glass and any movement will send them falling to their doom. However, just like all glasswork, they also have this sense of unbreakability to them. That despite their thin filagree motifs they are robust and will last the test of time. On ‘A | Spoke of Dew’ Marble is slow in his playing. He elegantly meanders along the fretboard. The notes come quick, but then gracefully fade out. There feel to be nods to Black Sabbath’s underrated instrumental ‘Laguna Sunrise’ throughout. The notes float out of the speakers evoking quiet meditations on morning sunrises. If ‘A | Spoke of Dew’ was a about Marble welcoming in the day, then ‘B | Wheelworker’ feels like his celebration of the afternoon. There is a laconic vibe to it. The playing is understated and punctuated with plenty of spaces to allow contemplation on his playing and whatever task you are completing. It reminds me of Ry Cooder’s seminal Paris, Texas score. Melancholy oozes from the speakers. When it is over, there are pangs of regret. I’m still not sure if they are because the song has ended or for something deeper.

What The Living Mirror represents is twofold. Firstly, Marble has crafted eight songs filled with love, loss, and redemption. Considering that they are all instrumental, their emotional impact is astounding. Secondly Adlington has found a wonderful first release for her new label. In Marble she has found a musician who mirrors her own intensity of playing but is also the reverse. Adlington uses swathes of dark, dank, guitar to get her message across. There is no space. Everything is claustrophobic and obsidian. I wonder if this is what those songs would sound like played on an acoustic guitar? I guess we’ll never know, but the mirror aesthetic works well when considering her involvement. Hopefully, this will be the first of many singular releases on The Crystal Cabinet, but if this is all we get, then the experiment has been worth it.



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