Album: Syd Matters

A Whisper and a Sigh, V2 / Chronowax
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The Independent Culture

It was, I believe, Momus who, in 2001, coined the term "folktronica", using it in the context of a putative parallel culture in which electro-pop performed the function of folk music. These days, the word refers to something else, with so many artists, from Martyn Bennett and Jim Moray to Calexico and even Grandaddy, building bridges between the supposedly opposed worlds of folk and electronics that it's become virtually a genre of its own. The Parisian singer Syd Matters is the latest exponent, his English-language debut A Whisper and a Sigh containing some of the most engaging and successful examples of this new crossover style. These songs find different ways of achieving aesthetic equilibrium between the various elements - some being acoustic folk numbers burnished with synthesiser pads, others starting with electronic tones before blossoming later into strumalong songs, as on "Automatic". The shifts in shape are skilfully effected to suggest an organic process. But Matters' penchant for dreamlike whimsy and nursery-rhyme allegories, enchanting in the first few instances, can grow tiresome, especially when delivered in the world-weary mumble he favours. Still, that's the risk you take when mapping out largely unexplored territory.

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