The Tallest Man On Earth might also be the least idiosyncratic man on earth. There is something about The Wild Hunt
that defies categorization. TTMOE is a very personable Swedish singer, sprightly and interactive on stage, emulating a Bob Dylan-like Americana, singing about the countryside of his homeland with nothing but an acoustic guitar and minimal background noise. That's the best I could do, and it's still several fragments from various chronologies of music. But that is the true charm of Kristian Matsson... he doesn't need anything but the raw energy of his songwriting to cultivate an attentive ear. The prolific finger-picking from track to track tricks the ear into a sense of variety and layering barely eclipsing "dude-with-a-six-string". And yet, Matsson sounds like a stampede of emotion, cascading down cliffs and over mountains with his guitar (or in one case, with a piano). Either way, the sound is an oxymoron. Gigantic minimalism at its finest.
It isn't often that an artist can be stripped down to the raw ingredients of their songs (one instrument, voice) and retain a powerful engagement, especially without a full band/arrangement for the listener to imagine on top. Most of those artists are household names. And most "acoustic" albums stem from something larger, and thus seems like the forgotten children of their parent tracks (still interesting, but juvenile at heart). But Matsson's constructions are fully realized; grown-up tunes with jobs and mortgages and responsibilities. Most songs start with a guitar and an idea, but they don't usually end there as well. That is, unless they are some sort of cohesive brilliance.
Don't get me wrong, this is a yowl record. If you don't like yowlers, you better get your kicks elsewhere. But give Matsson a chance to show you the maturity of his arrangements, regardless of complexity in the instrumental department. You can't judge a book by the amount of synthetic freak-outs and scratchy distortion. Sometimes, earnestness is the best policy. On "Love Is All", Matsson cries a fierce chorus, with a scratchy topside, and the air is palpable. The combination of a compelling voice/acoustic composition hasn't made blood pump like this since For Emma, Forever Ago
. The organic heart-busting moment, perfect and fragile and beautiful, is the reason so many generations of kids have picked up guitars over the decades... attempting to achieve the same perfect balance. On The Wild Hunt
, it makes another rare appearance. -joe
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MP3: "The Wild Hunt" (The Wild Hunt)
The Tallest Man On Earth on Myspace