Terry Mattson’s Pageantry is a wholly pleasant dark dance: REVIEW

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If the end is nigh then let TM of JPZ croon your worried soul to sleep

On Pageantry, the solo offering from Terry Mattson, swampy rock languishes on a sludgy throne somewhere between psychedelia and grunge. It’s a familiar terrain for the local artist, but on his latest release, Mattson hits it square out of the park.

But don’t come expecting a simple pedestrian stroll through one man’s sonic ventures. Despite some ace instrumentation guest work, and some tasteful trumpet blasts, Pageantry is an exercise in moody insular apocalypse jams.

It would be impossible to separate Mattson from his past work with the mercurial, on-again-off-again Saskatoon group the Junior Pantherz.

Having slugged it out with the JPZ for nearly a decade – a journey that spanned seven releases and took them across North America – Mattson’s subdued guitar thump and hazy vocals became the signature for the group.

It was a sound that could be extracted from the band’s genesis to their later years. Tellingly, it’s found throughout Pageantry, albeit in a familiar way. TM of JPZ is a courting of a new dawn, taking with it only a few tokens of the past.

Pageantry is similarly a nice extension of the songwriting explored on Mattson’s previous solo outing One-Way Glass, an album recorded on a basement 4-track, with the first run of CD’s being limited to 18 copies.

At times, the music has a vintage boogie quality, not unlike the roster of ‘90s San Francisco boutique label Man’s Ruin Records. While at other points, the guitarist delves even deeper, and purpler, into rock history.

™ of jpz

Not surprisingly, in true Saskatoon fashion, Mattson’s gotten busy with more than just a few musicians. Having put in time with a wide range of groups with similar tastes and pleasures – Golden Smoke and Dumb Angel come to mind – he is also a current member of Foggy Notions. There is a similar ringing chord throughout these projects, and it chemtrails its way into his solo pieces.

But while the music of Pageantry is a sludge-feast for those of us who like our tunes tripped out, the foreboding sense of doom is a hard one to shake.

The lyrics, ever so sly and dreamlike, unfold like an atom bomb at the speed of slow motion. Mattson doesn’t take you on a journey of the harsh battlefields. Rather, he references the tiny nuances of a dawdling decay.

“Past the only light in the sky,” sings Mattson on Redwood Serenade.

And on the most apocalyptic-sounding track of them all – the tragic-sounding “When Bees Cry” – a song that opens with a mournful air-raid siren crossed with the ominous computer jargon of the original Terminator movie – Mattson doesn’t say a damn thing at all. Bees don’t just cry. They also die.

Is there redemption amidst the 11 tracks of Pageantry?

Yes.

The track previous, “Dead Air,” sounds similarly frightening – the thunder of the kick drum could be a bomb going off in the distance. But Mattson’s woven guitar work is the proverbial saviour, an anchor piece that frames an already strong piece of work. The chords are dirty without being indistinguishable. And the brief solo interludes howl without screaming. Right? It’s a great piece of dynamic trickery, a tonal-piece of slimy magic that few manage to accomplish so seamlessly.

Perhaps this might be explained by Mattson’s bouts with tinnitus, which are delved into in this excellent podcast episode of Weirdo Magnets, which you can check out HERE.

A sonic heavyweight, despite the premonition and menace, Pageantry is a wholly pleasant dark dance. The album is available exclusively at Vinyl Diner, so maybe take a walk, pick up this CD, and enjoy the scenery.

While you still can, of course.