[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
So for those of you who didn’t check out the digital releases Sieben peppered the internet with recently here’s an inducement to go and do so. This is by no means the complete track-listing nor is it in the original running order but what has been compiled here should provide more than enough reason to take the plunge.
Matt Howden has been a busy man as of late, a very busy man. He’s already wrapped up another 7JK album in the midst of doing all of these releases and even has time to play the occasional live date. But onto the other side of that river we go.
There are unreleased treats all over this beauty. “We Wait” gets another take, “Knudlustysummer” appears in differing form, “Cult of the Fallen” shows further depth and there’s an excellent remix of “Love Must Wax Cold”. In addition to all of these, there are selections from those three EPs which have clearly benefited from being placed on a silver disc. The most enjoyable facet to this period of hyper-activity is that if you do not like the way he’s arranged things and own the full cut of his 2015/16 material then you can go in and set it up however you like. We have the first ever interactive Sieben release on our hands; I myself being too curious at times for my own good constructed ‘The Old Magic’ the way he’d intended to at the start… careful what you wish for. Wow.
Yet again, the artwork included is quite riveting; we see a left hand outstretched over the rapids while behind it a burnt out industrial landscape looms. Just above the palm there is that tree again, it compliments the forest green shade of cover very effectively. The inner tray shows a visage of one of the old gods glowering out after it appears to have been burnt. Time in it’s many disturbing guises is channeled, lured and then trapped inside the confines of this record; rather than illuminating what has gone before, ‘The Other Side of the River’ seeks to show us the results of where our own decisions have led. The natural order has plainly been upset by humanity’s incessant need for purchase and plunder.
Sieben uses his violin to reflect upon the changes which have shaped our world; while the music plays his voice conjures up scenes from long ago and if you pay close enough attention you can close your eyes and see for yourself what he’s describing. It must be said that this phase of work is the most experimental yet, it speaks in ancient tones while employing the most modern of recording techniques; this seeming paradox between the past and present is what drives Sieben and if you think he’s finished pushing the envelope then you’d better listen to these releases again. And again. Closer now. Put out those lights, pour a glass and run through the wilds.