Drinking Songs

Studio Album by released in 2005
Drinking Songs's tracklist:
C.F. Bundy
Send Ringtone
Trying to Explain
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The Guilty Party
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What's Wrong
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The Kursk
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What the Fuck Am I Doing on This Battlefield?
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A Waste of Blood
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The Maid We Messed
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Drinking Songs review

Hard step away from the atmospheric jungle textures of Third Eye Foundation

Former Flying Saucer Attack guitarist Matt Elliott released a series of experimental jungle/space rock albums throughout the '90s and early 2000s as Third Eye Foundation. In early 2003, he began recording under his birth name for the Merge label with Mess We Made. Since then he has relocated from Bristol to France, a move which has evidently driven his spectral music ever deeper into the brine. Marinated in cafe piano, mournful strings, and delicate guitar, his second album under his own name, Drinking Songs, follows Mess We Made as another hard step away from the atmospheric jungle textures of Third Eye Foundation. He leaves electronics almost entirely behind and appropriates Eastern European folk music with caution and respect. Drinking Songs is an album steeped heavily in spirits, both alcoholic and otherwise. On these tracks, Elliott seems to address the world from the sunless interior of an absinthe glass, with his rarified instrumental arrangements serving as the only thin balm available to keep his subjects from capsizing hopelessly into the ink-black, fathomless depths.

The music features many Eastern European traditional influences

Drinking Songs lets acoustic guitars and Matt's vocals take the lead role in the music. The first 7 songs are like that – acoustic guitars and cellos engulf the listener with a very slow and sad atmosphere. With track titles like The Kursk (which is based upon the sunken Russian submarine of the same name) and What the Fuck am I Doing on this Battlefield?, Drinking Songs is a raw expression of angst, sadness and melancholy, that embraces the listener shamelessly, without hiding behind the electronic noise of Third Eye Foundation. The music features many Eastern European traditional influences, similar to those of label mate Yann Tiersen. Accordions, flutes and various keyboards, all contributing to giving Drinking Songs a bizarre pub-like atmosphere. But don't think that there are no electronics here. Multiple layers of processed vocals, keys and loops all form an integral part of Drinking Songs and are used to highlight Matt's multi-instrumentalism. The album ends with a 20-minute drill’n’bass (which is a crossover of drum’n’bass mixed with industrial noise) piece, The Maid We Messed – a brilliant wordplay on 2003's Mess We Made. It is an extended collage of deconstructed excerpts from the preceding seven songs. This track has the feel of a hangover man attempting to recreate the events of the previous evening. And strangely enough, although this song is very different to the rest of the album (it is much more similar to early Third Eye Foundation), it doesn't stand out as bizarre, but the intensity of the beats and noise achieves in bringing closure to the melancholy of the previous songs.

Fantastically talented multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and arranger

Matt Elliott has taken music much farther than we could have ever imagined from listening to Third Eye Foundation back in the 1990s. He's a fantastically talented multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and arranger, and Drinking Songs once again progresses from its predecessor. For someone once so enamored with jungle electronica, Drinking Songs is quite a departure. Elliott keeps a steady sonic demeanor, fusing delicate, cinematic guitar/piano/string compositions and sullen Eastern European folk. Dreary, spare and endearingly dramatic, Drinking Songs takes a style that most of its audience will find exotic, foreign and exciting and approaches it from a pop angle. Listeners less impressed with general aesthetic impressions and more interested in compelling songwriting will find these bleary-eyed late night scenes just as intriguing as the dilettantes will. We'll have whatever he's drinking.