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MATT FORD - Announces Debut Solo Album, First Track Available For Streaming

Former Black Magician, Serotonal and Torture Garden instrumentalist Matt Ford will release his debut solo album entitled By The Deathbed, on 19th August via Crisis Risen. The Liverpool musician's full-length debut follows 2014's self-titled demo and, having written, performed and produced the album entirely by himself, he reveals himself to be an accomplished composer of songs, soundscapes and atmospheres. Not only this, but By The Deathbed also showcases the full range of his vocal talents for the first time. The album finds Matt Ford in fine voice, as his singing ranges from a low, Michael Gira-esque baritone to soaring falsetto, also taking in ghostly whispers, and spoken and choral passages.
This is a dark, bold and ambitious album. Overtly and without compromise, it deals with the grisly subject of death. However, one cannot sing about death without also singing about life; the extraordinary opener "Regret" forces the listener to think of death, yet, from their deathbed, the song's protagonist laments their past mistakes as the body shuts down. This sets the tone for the entire record, which meditates on the constant battles of life; the neverending search for meaning and fulfillment in whatever form it may take, always carried out with the wariness of the passage of time and ultimately, one's own mortality.
The bleak lyrical themes are matched by the album's musical and sonic landscape. The songs are often folk-based - like the near-forgotten traditional ballad "Shirt Of Lace" - but are drenched in an atmosphere which recalls the classic 1980s 4AD sound, as well as the darker and more twisted elements of post-punk and doom metal. Guitars shimmer and shudder, treated with effects signifying imbalance and disharmony. Drums and vocals echo cavernously. Atmosphere is punctuated by sounds of claustrophobic train rides and howling wind. The album is diverse, yet it all hangs together effortlessly, its elements bound by sheer, raw emotion.
"Conflict" is arguably the album's quintessential track, condensing its various lyrical and musical themes into one dramatic piece. Matt Ford broods for minutes on the futility of conflict over a backdrop of chiming bells and barely plucked acoustic guitars, before the song erupts into an apocalyptic climax of heavy distortion, thunderous drums and banshee-esque wails. There are moments where Matt Ford comes across almost like an evangelist preacher, foretelling your demise. But there is no Heaven or Hell here; he has only Earthly concerns, and he is urging you, not condemning you. After all, there is always hope, and this is ultimately the album's central message, one which manifests in its closing, three-track suite. Carried along by choirs, chants and bells, the suite brings to mind Arvo Pärt's work, and its solemn, black death-referencing centrepiece, "The Great Mortality", resembles a Requiem Mass. It is amidst this leaden atmosphere which Matt Ford weaves a thread of hope, culminating in the closing track "Serenity".
By The Deathbed is revelatory, hard-hitting and life-affirming. It is raw, in the midst of an over-produced musical climate. At its quietest, it is intimate and pensive. At its loudest, it is frightening, yet invigorating. Unapologetically, it's a celebration of the album format; there are no singles here, but it does demand attention and rewards close listening by taking you on a journey, and communicating something vital and heartfelt to all who are open to it. Pre-orders are available at this location. Listen to the album opener "Regret" in the player below. Link