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CD Feature/ Saltillo: "Ganglion"

img  Tobias

Many different emotions can constitute a reason to start writing music: Happiness, sorrow, exultation, disillusionment, love, hate, hope, loss. For “Ganglion”, it was fear. First, Menton J. Matthews saw a friend of his flatly denie he had cancer, only to be diagnosed with it a few months later. Then something started growing on his own hand.What would act as a blockade for most turned out to be a source of creative energy. It was sheer anguish, which drove him into the studio to record the songs and instrumentals to his first solo album – and which leant the work an extremely intense and sometimes even frenzied aura.

There is definitely more than the usual autumnal sadness running through these pieces. Matthews, who has a thing going for movie samples, has already recorded the soundtracks to a couple of films and the wideness, the bigger-than-life gestures and the up-front emotionality of the big screen are certainly all present here. Part of this has to do with the lush and spaceous production one has come to expect and appreciate from all releases on Suspicious Records. But to an even larger extent, it can be attributed to careful layering of sounds and naturally breathing arrangements, which leaves a lot of room to the listener’s imagination. Of course, the rich instrumentation on display plays a role as well. While Saltillo is being billed by some as a sort of Classical musician gone positively astray and while the cover shows us one of Menton’s very own violins, which he lovingly and minutely restored himself, there’s more to the man than a love for old instruments. The cello might be omnipresent, but it is never an end in itself, instead blending harmoniously with shreds of gospel, drops of piano, slide- and accoustic guitar, banjo and bass hovering above luscious synth pads and beats. With this eclectic crew on board, Menton’s electronically fueled cinematographic voodoo orchestra embarks on a journey encompassing twelve tracks, ranging from the hypnotic bluegrass madness of “Remember me?” to the tender quasi-folk of “I’m on the wrong side” and from the broken-hearted self-retreat of opener “A necessary end” to the ecstatic rhythms of “A simple test”. The futuristic broken grooves of “Backyard Pond” are an exception – the emphasis lies clearly on atmospherics, melodies and the occasional contribution of Matthews whife Sarah, who turns “Giving in” into a powerful, personal and decidedly  catchy statement of defiance.

In the end, the diversity of the material lifts a lot of the inherent weight off the album, its message being: There is always hope. After Matthews had finished the last piece, he fiinally went to see a doctor and the lump in his wirst turned out to be a non-tumourus Ganglion cyst. So while Menton’s fears proved to be unfounded in the end, his work remains a vivid document of that time. Which does not mean that the creative well has dried up for Saltillo. There are many different emotions, which can serve as a basis for writing music and fear is just one of them.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Saltillo
Homepage: Suspicious Records / Hive Records

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