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t - Anti-Matter Poetry

Interview with t

Thomas Thielen is a very talented multi-instrumentalist, a musician who has proved the value of his personal ideas by writing original music in both Scythe albums and his two first personal (as T). This is his third attempt, another album in the same vein as "Voices", his latest release in 2006. The Marillion and Gazpacho influences are dominating "Anti-Matter Poetry", filtered with the unique style of T. The sound of these two bands during the last decade pushed the neo-prog sound forward and it's obvious that Thielen wants to play modern prog rock, adding his personal style. The Bowie-like vocals give a more dramatic atmosphere to all songs, where simple and yet prog melodies (guitar, keyboards and even sax) are combined with very good samplings. The best examples are"Phantom Pain Scars" and "The Rearview Mirror Suite", both wonderful songs that will appeal to any fan of progressive music. The best about "Anti-Matter Poetry", besides the high compositional and performance level, is the freshness of Thielen's ideas and his introvert style of playing. The album sounds like 2010, though there are many evident 70's influences (mostly Genesis). One of the best albums I have listened to this year. Highly recommended to all neo-prog and modern prog-rock fans.

Interview with t

In first place there is the fascination factor. I’ve been listening to this album in an almost continuous way since I’ve received it. It is different, dark and challenging like few that have been released in these last years. Secondly, the music here on display is something really progressive, in the meaning that is modern; profoundly illustrative on how prog rock could be evolving nowadays; refreshing in the way that is reminiscent without being intrusive and constructed in a way that elevates the conjuring of those various reminiscences into a higher, anti-cliché musicality; and the overall result sounds so contemporary and different that it could be considered a landmark or the start of the (never mentioned) post-prog style. Third, because this is a solo project where every instrument, every idea and every architectural corner has been designed and put to practice by a single person, which in my eyes (ears) puts Thomas Thielen aka t in that difficult and restrict hall of fame of true geniuses in modern prog (this to be confirmed in future releases, off course).

German multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Thomas Thielen aka "t", aka, is back with his third album. Once upon a time he was the frontman for German prog rockers Scythe, before going on to release two solo solo albums. Four years on from the last one he's back with a new one in the shape of "Anti-Matter Poetry". The more ardent progsters amongst you will be delighted to know that it's a 68 minute long concept album. Herr Thielen is again, responsible for everything that you hear, as he gets on with the concept. Which is. Deep breath. Art is a bitch, and so is literature - and music. they always present us worlds well out of reach - pipedream kingdoms of epic journeys, heroism, boundless yearning and lots of all the things we are, well, let's face it, not. Art is, insofar, simply destructive for your everyday middle class John Doe. It makes him long for things he neither really wants or needs: danger, uncertainty, lovesickness, bleeding hearts, je ne sais quoi. So, for our private universe, poetry is condensed destruction. It is antimatter. This album deals with the clichees that we retreat to when we celebrate unrest. When we crave for craving. When we swap the sun for a black hole. When we die a little to feel our lives again. This album is furious about the stupidity behind this. It is also helpless in avoiding it. It is a one-way street monologue. It is anti-matter poetry. Now, I'm just a working class Scotch dunderheid, so have absolutely no idea what the hell he's banging on about. However, I'm not surprised to discover that t is a classically educated piano player, has a PhD in classics, and that he teaches teachers, as well as teaching. So I'll just be confining myself to the music, which is magnificent. It's modern, neo-prog, with more than a hint of "Brave" era Marillion, albeit with added touches of alt-rock and "Low" era Bowie / Eno. So it's certainly not an easy listen, although it is a worthwhile one. He takes plenty of time to unfold his concept, with a couple of the tunes up around the quarter of an hour mark, and the shortest, 'I Saved The World' clocking in at 8 minutes. But you're never bored, as his adventurous take on prog keeps you listening to the very end. It's elaborate, thoughtful, music for the brain, with 'Phantom Pain Scars' and 'The Rearview Mirror Suite' the peak of his performing and compositional skills. And those skills are most definitely mad. Porcupine Tree fans looking for an additional music fix could do a lot worse than check this out

Anti-Matter Poetry is made up of 6 tracks all of which are on the longish side. In fact the shortest of the bunch clocks in at eight-minutes. The over all tone is somewhat dark, perhaps somber, even melancholic however musically there are many intense moments of full orchestration that create a grandness to the music contained here. Things get underway with “The Wasted Lands” [9:37] which starts with a cacophony of sounds slowly coming into audible range; searing guitars, phased distorted voices, synth background washes and a throbbing bass line. At about the two minute mark the new guitar line gives off a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe. The drums softly come in at the three-minute mark and then the song crashes into gear at 3:30 where the guitar riff starts plying the central melody. Here the music takes on a very majestic and sweeping tone as the heavy orchestration is all consuming. Then everything subsides and we’re left with a filtered piano and voice as the vocals begin. It sounds like it’s coming from a cheap radio, distant and thin. T’s vocals remind me a lot of modern era Marillion mixed with some David Bowie. Given the length of these compositions there’s lots of room for instrumental virtuosity. Solos are everywhere on both guitars and keyboard but they’re also mixed in with sound effects and voice clips creating a kind of cinematic feel. You hear bits of music start with one sonic style and change up to something completely different. One moment the music is richly orchestrated with all manner of crescendos and choirs and the next is something that’s more guitar heavy. All the musical dynamics are present and overall there is a very modern feel to the music.

Almost 70 minutes and only six songs; most of them counting over ten minutes. Well this ain't punk rock, it is obviously symphonic progressive rock. As you yourselves will find out, it is a superb concept album about art as a means of deception or even destruction. Everything sounds elaborated, crystal clear and balanced. Yes, balance is very important when talking about a prog rock album, and T manage to keep the balance between the loud and the quieter moments, the orchestral and the vocal parts, which by the way are fabulous in a very David Bowie or even Perry Blake way. It would be unfair to point out any other influences (one could argue that T owe a lot to Gazpacho, Porcupine Tree and such major prog rock acts) since it is obvious that Thomas Thielen has embarked to accomplish his own music vision, beyond the dictations of any genre. There's no need to mention any highlights, because there is none. The entire album is a symphonic highlight. Listen to it again and again and enjoy the trip.

...If you appreciate challenging albums, melodies that don’t jump into your lap, and dig The Mars Volta or David Bowie, this might be your thing. Imagine a quit, slow-moving mix of these elements thrown together in a progressive rock melting pot. The feel and variation on the album makes it worthwhile for me, but I miss more tracks like the previously mentioned “Phantom Pain Scars”. The rest of the tracks are a bit to ambient and slow-progressing for me to really take off on this album. It is well executed though, and definitely has its moments.

The drama of the album continues over the 22 minutes of 'Phantom Pain Scars' and 'I Saved the World' which are filled with yet more variety as the saxophones are broken out and a creaking mellotron adds character. The lyrical themes continue to intrigue: 'let me tell you my story then/like creaking bones beneath my skin/Of idiot maturity and agony so deeply muffled I was never a child, but I saved the world'. Following this the suite of songs I probably feared when I sat down to listen to 'Anti Matter Poetry' appears. 'The Rear View Mirror Suite' is broken down into three movements: a) The Echo of the Gap b) Last Dance c) The Grace of Boredom. Thankfully, this set of songs isn't a deal breaker. Beginning with the broody and slow paced 'Echo of the Gap' where T heaps on the fragile melancholy 'this is all I get: a fallen angel/the high hopes of the past, a flower from last spring' before seguing into 'Last Dance' a contemplative instrumental the suite ends with the repressed anger of 'The Grace of Boredom'. Closing song 'Anti Matter Poetry' continues with the bleak yet captivating style of the record and builds to crashing drums as T finally unravels and drifts into space. 'Anti Matter Poetry' coaxes elements of NIN, Roger Waters era Pink Floyd and David Bowie into a cohesive whole. T's vision is an impressively expansive one which grasps you by the ears over its 60 minute running time and rarely lets them go.

David Bowie could also be reference point, especially regarding the vocals. Just listen to "Scavengers and Hairdressers" with its industrial beats and squelching guitar sounds harkening back to Bowie's Earthling album. The soaring guitar leads have a Marillion feel and Thielen makes good use of effects throughout the song. The beginning of "The Wasted Lands" has a Wall-era Pink Floyd vibe with sampled sounds and moody synths. The music is subdued as Thielen prefers a more subtle approach to song craft with slow build ups and quieter sections with delicate keyboards and poignant vocals. The fourteen minute "Phantom Pain Scars" features lovely layered vocals and a touching piano melody before muted electronica-style beats and heavier guitars add some extra intensity before poignant keys and soaring guitar take hold. There is much happening here as is befitting an epic track. The album's longest song is the adventurous "The Rear View Mirror Suite", a three part epic that starts mellow before the symphonic arrangement slowly builds and some emotive lead guitar ala Marillion takes center stage. The dramatic rhythms of guitar and keyboards will rock your world. This is another excellent release on ProgRock Records and one of the nicest surprises this year. Melodic and accessible, yet complex enough to satisfy that prog itch we so often get, Anti-Matter Poetry should not be passed by.