Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Matt Berry - Kill The Wolf

We all love the folk-horror masterpiece that is The Wicker Man, not the atrocious 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage obviously, but the 1973 original by Hammer Films; starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt and featuring what reputed to be Britt Ekland’s bare bottom.

The film’s soundtrack, largely composed by Paul Giovanni and performed by Magnet, is an essential component, creating atmosphere and suspense throughout the film, as well as containing a number of unique folk songs, the undeniable influence from which has rippled within the fabric of the British folk and psych scenes throughout the following decades; stand-out tracks being covered by artists as diverse as The Sneaker Pimps and Marked & Joff

Matt Berry likes The Wicker Man also, he likes it very much indeed, especially the soundtrack. His third album (the second on Acid Jazz Records), Kill The Wolf, explores this fondness for all things ‘Wicker’ (in fact the atrocious 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage would have been ten times better if they’d waited for seven years and used  Kill The Wolf as the soundtrack).

It isn’t all ‘hey nonny’ and mandolins however, a creeping ‘prog’ subtext underpins the album, the serious musician sharpening his steel with lengthy and melodic instrumental passages that might win kudos with connoisseurs of Floyd or Yes.

His ear for a catchy tune, apparent on the preceding album Witchazel, is still in evidence; Medicine and The Signs are both songs with strong hooks and memorable choruses. But it is the overwhelming Englishness, the wicker-drenched harmony and detail that is undoubtedly this records strength, you can almost smell the henbane, taste the willow bark, lose yourself in a maze of bramble hedges and shadowy Kentish woods.  

Available in gate-fold as well as single vinyl formats, plus the obligatory compact disc, this album may prove to become a classic in its own right, a source for a new generation of hipsters to study and cover.   

Caution is advised, when listening, if the moon is full. 


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