… a soundtrack to life’s contemplative moments…
Ever since his signing to Marc Byrd’s and Andrew Thompson’s Hammock Music, Matt Kidd has been consistently delighting my ears with his sprawling, cinematic, and modern ambience as Slow Meadow. With two full-lengths under the belt: the self-titled debut, Slow Meadow, released in 2015, and Costero, released in 2017, Kidd has also put out a few singles and EPs, which you can preview and buy on his Bandcamp. This fall, the Houston (Texas) artist returns to the Hammock imprint with a brand new studio album, which was preceded by the four rolling singles of tracks appearing on the full-length again. So if you haven’t been following these closely, you might as well dive into the album itself. It’s worth immersing yourself in its entirety.
The music of Happy Occident is both, organic and synthetic – the acoustic instruments appearing on the album: piano, droning guitars, and lamenting strings, courtesy of Ellen Story, are complemented by synth arpeggios, textured pads, and spacey sweeps. The fun use of autotune’s ability to change a speech into a song is used to modify and then transmit a crucial message. The melancholy passages are wistfully transformed from minor into major chords, and these are held within a breath of slight reverb, detuned from its original unyielding purpose. The overall calming effect of the eleven pieces provides a safe space to reflect and meditate on the current state of being, “fueled by the anxiety derivative of modern life and the frenetic and often uncertain state of these ever-changing times.”
I have been thinking more about what it means to be ‘Happy’ in the Occident. Happiness is often nothing more than a false promise used to sell something, even ideas. I dwell on the utter failure of that word, especially in comparison to something like the Greek word ‘eudaimonia.’
— Matt Kidd
I know that these days it’s all too easy to fall under a spell of “cinematic” music that at the end all sounds the same. I assure you, it is not the case with the artists represented by these words. Each piece we cover, and on Happy Occident indeed, tells a story of its own, created by a mind with a unique imagination, confronting borders, labels and beliefs. I know that imprints, like the one of Hammock, put their heart and soul into each gently birthed release. I know that even cover art is chosen to reveal (or to conceal) a certain message. In this case, the artwork by Stephan Schmitz, depicts, what I believe to be an obsessed suburban man casually clipping the bottom half of the sun during his hedge trimming ritual. Without noticing this fallacy he carries on. So much is said already on this cover, the rest can only be explored by you…