2020/05/29 - Matt GOLD...

Imagined Sky
by Matt Gold

May 29th 2020

CD * DL * 12"  LP - 180 Gram - Limited Edition

Matt Gold - electric and acoustic guitars, voice (5), analog synthesizer (2, 8), wurlitzer electric piano (2, 7), mellotron (5) 
Bryan Doherty - electric bass 
Jeremy Cunningham - drums 
Macie Stewart - voice (2) 
Sara Serpa - voice (8) 
Dan Pierson - analog synthesizer (1, 3) 
Myra Hinrichs - violin (5) 
Matt Ulery - double bass (5)


Imagined Sky is the first solo record from Chicago-based guitarist and songwriter Matt Gold. Gold's open, creative approach to music making has flourished in his adopted home - "I value the cross-pollination and intermingling of the scenes; it's a beautifully collaborative city" - and his talents have been called upon by a diversity of boundary-crossing artists such as Makaya McCraven, Greg Ward, Sara Serpa, and Jamila Woods. 

Melody is at the center of Gold's music, whether he's edging towards post-rock power-trio antics with electric bassist Bryan Doherty and drummer Jeremy Cunningham, or exploring an abstracted Americana with acoustic guitar and whispering electronic textures. Imagined Sky also uses these elements to frame the direct, folk-tinged vocals of collaborators Sara Serpa and Macie Stewart, as well as Gold himself. "I've tried to stitch together the more improvisatory electric trio material with something more song-focused and concise, balancing these energies." 

'Augusta Fairgrounds' opens the album with the trio, whose driving yet empathetic approach creates the backbone of the record. "We played free-improvised gigs around Chicago for a few years before I brought any of my own material in, so my trio music sits on several years of trust, collaboration and exploration with Bryan and Jeremy." Like much of the record, the track evokes a wide open, sometimes-turbulent landscape. "I think a lot about space in my writing, whether it's external, as in a physical space, or internal - the spaces of our imagination, our uncertainties, our own particular ways of seeing the world...this record leans into both interpretations." 'Queen Anne' features vocalist Macie Stewart and lyrically builds on these themes, blending her clear, unadorned articulation with the trio's insistent interlocking groove. Propelled by a trance-inducing drum pattern, 'Crimes' emerges with a sparse, desert landscape of guitar chords and synthesizer textures that build in energy and intensity, hinting at the sounds of a Morricone film score. 'Between The Four Seas' is a measured, stately composition for solo acoustic guitar whose careful poise is subverted by aggressive tape manipulation to create an undercurrent of disquiet. 'Truehearted' features lush strings surrounding an affectingly unadorned vocal from Gold on a piece based on an excerpt of a Dvorak composition. Playing viola throughout his childhood, Gold recalls performing the orchestral piece and being haunted by one of its melodies for years to come. "I don't think anyone really looks to the Slavonic Dances as a heavy, emotional cornerstone of his writing, but one melody that's doubled by the flute and oboe just never seemed to leave my consciousness. It made so much sense reframed as an acoustic guitar piece, adding lyrics...which makes sense, since those pieces were originally written to evoke a folk music sensibility in the first place." The trio returns on 'Dollarama,' a blistering extrapolation on a unison theme, followed by 'Always Starting Over,' which returns the melodic voice to the acoustic guitar alongside the rhythm section's nuanced pulse. The song's subtle production and detailed textures open the melodies into more ambient, meditative zones and showcase the trio's wide dynamic palette. 'Petrichor,' written with and featuring Sara Serpa on vocals, finds Gold and Serpa in duet as dreamlike synthesizer lines wash over the mix. "I first worked with Sara on a Sun Speak record a few years ago and was looking for an opportunity to play with her again - she brings such a vulnerable, personal sound to the music." 'Bottom Of The Barrel' leans into an earthy, familiar feeling, bursting with raucous, blues-tinged energy to create the perfect end-of-the-set nightcap. 

Imagined Sky finds Gold exploring the connections between the external and internal - the vast landscapes that erode and change, and one's inner world that evolves and adapts. Richly melodic, atmospheric yet accessible, unconstrained by genre but sure of its own identity, Imagined Sky feels less like a debut and more like a culmination - an arrival point for an artist who has already quietly woven his voice into the fabric of Chicago's many musical communities.

'Bottom of the Barrel' from 'Imagined Sky' by Matt Gold
'Bottom of the Barrel' from 'Imagined Sky' by Matt Gold