Matt Malone’s sorrowful alt-country debut, S.I.X, is out today (April 29th) via local independent imprint Heart Of The Rat Records.
An immersive and reflective collection, S.I.X draws you into Malone’s world, the Australian singer-songwriter himself describing the album as “a very personal and hard laboured tome that has been carved and tested over years of countless gigs.”
We recently caught up with Malone to gain a greater insight into the album’s individual tracks, their background and his own personal attachment.
All words below by Matt Malone.
“There is no god but man, and I’m the man of all sorrows”
The song takes its name from the 19th Century masterwork Le Chants de Maldoror by Lautreamont. The book chronicles the beautifully surrealistic misadventures of supreme anti-hero Maldoror, who is a kind of lone Satanic figure roaming a densely imaginative landscape filled with horror and sublime grace.
The book had a profound effect on me in my youth and I guess the song sprang from there, combined with a love of the Man With No Name aesthetic of the great ’70s Eastwood Westerns like High Plains Drifter.
The song is narrated from the quintessential stranger’s perspective as he wanders this wasteland of crowned hawk children, bloody sex rituals, hanging men, etc. – all to this throbbing, John Lee Hooker-style bass riff. The song sets the thematic tone of the record: somewhere between traditional blues/country music and my love for bands like Earth, Current 93, Death In June and The Birthday Party.
I wrote the piece at 3am in a 20-minute intoxicated frenzy. It had always been performed in its most skeletal form with just voice and guitar, but with the added work of my collaborator Adam Casey, ‘Maldoror’ has been fully realised. The introductory sound of burning fire, bowed cymbals, and hackbrett and the outro of heavy distorted guitars drew forth the infernal image that populated my brain. I hope it is received upon you.
“I need to be free, I’m sailing a pandemonium lagoon”
This is a song I wrote during a very long period of depression and suicidal ideation. As the song describes, when I put pen to paper I was literally sitting on the edge of a bed with a half-bottle of whiskey, a torn and blood-smeared Bible next to me, a knife atop my bedside table (not a gun, as the song would suggest), and stained papers, scattered books, and cigarette butts all littered around a darkened room. During that time I had been listening to Ludwig Van, Hank Williams, and Holy Money-period Swans on repeat. The murder ballad tradition had become a fervent interest at the time and this was my stab (haha) at it.
“Your eyes were a wound, lamented in an ancient song”
Some of these songs are directly inspired by certain people in my life, particularly various lovers. If you can imagine all your lovers amalgamated into one flesh and filtered through the shards of a stained-glass window in the image of the ‘Star’ tarot card, that’s how this song came to light. It’s an invocation of a tender longing for a seemingly unattainable ideal, infused with a sense of the inevitability of failure and loss.
I love the banjo that Adam brought into the chorus. It opened up a buoyancy that I hadn’t previously imagined.
“I’m going to take you down, beneath the snow, the earth, and the heavenly crown”
Jealousy is one of the most primal and potentially destructive emotions that exists, and it can lead to some of the most atrocious acts by lovers upon lovers. It’s the subjective and seemingly contradictory interplay between innocence and cruelty, altruism and selfishness, ownership and freedom driven by this concept we label as ‘love’ that interests me.
One of my favourite aspects of the arrangements is the drone of the bowed double bass that runs like a river of black blood beneath the almost Danzig-style blues guitar. Incidentally, this is a song many an audience member has expressed an emotional communion with.
“Love is the law, love under will”
This song is a devotional piece to Aleister Crowley and the Thelemic movement in general, which has deeply affected me with its philosophy and maxim of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
The piece could have gone many ways and it was one of the songs that we worked on the most, trial-and-erroring different arrangements, etc. I feel that there is an inspired meeting of ‘classic’ rock ‘n’ roll like The Doors or Black Sabbath with some of the musical subtlety of Bill Callahan and Angels of Light, brought together into this 11-minute “Beast” of a song, for lack of a better term.
The middle crescendo is one of my favourite moments on the record. I’ve played it to several people in differing states of consciousness who have received visions of war, impending orgasm, a voiceless light forming planets, and a host of other images, which is always deeply complimentary.
“She Of The Sea”
“I lie, upon an ocean as I watch you dream”
This is my love song to the universal feminine. It came about from sleeping alone by the sea a few years ago and listening to the waves lap up against the shore in unique rhythm. At the time I was also reading about the Qabalah and the sephiroth Binah, which is also referred to as ‘The Great Sea’. She became an emblematic representation of not only the feminine element, but of the entire Jungian sea of archetypal dreaming, and appears as a character several times throughout the record.
The song ends with the recorded sounds of the ocean to bring us to what is both the beginning and end of the album’s circular motif. As “Maldoror” begins with the passionately masculine fire, so ‘She Of The Sea’ ends with the soothingly feminine water of grace.
Photo: Raymie Sherring