My new recording, The Lost Year, is out now. I am really excited for the release of The Lost Year. This is a recording that I’ve been working on intermittently for the last year. If you liked Consciousness of Light, it’s the follow-up that I promised would be out in early 2020 but, when COVID hit, work crawled to a halt. The Lost Year brings together two things I’ve been trying to successfully merge for years: My deep love for textural, ambient drone music and the other side of my artistic self, my songwriting. I’ve gotten close to merging these at times, but never quite hit it in a way that lasted, for me. Consciousness of Light marked a change in my process, formula and approach; The Lost Year continues what started there. For me it perfectly merges what Brian Eno talked about with ambient music – ‘a music that be listened to as easily as ignored’ but also a music that comes from a deeper part of my artistic self.
As was started over a year ago with the release of Consciousness of Light and I continued to work on through the early pandemic lockdown, it’s all about the songs and songwriting. I’ve released a few things in that time, a new series called Dronearium (1 and 2 are out now) of mostly long-from atmospheric soundscapes – I have about ten of these that are mostly finished that I’ve worked on over the last year, as well as releasing a recording that Michael Teager and I had worked on for quite some time, Subterranean Bearings.
Through it all, through all of this crazy 2020, the songs have been a touchstone. I constantly come back to the songs. I’ve tried to create a follow-up to Ambient Guitar not less than 40 times and I have dozens of guitar-centric ambient tracks. The smart money is on an Ambient Guitar follow-up, which folks have loved and has given me no shortage of good energy inspiration, but the inspiration continues to move to the songs – Back to basics.
I’m particularly proud of this May YouTube performance, where I brought together the songs with ambient guitar in a live performance setting:
I feel like this is the future, right now, but usually no sooner than I’ve said it, the muse takes me down some other creative rabbit hole.
For the better part of this year and last, I’ve been working on a recording I’ve been calling “Within/Without” but then I found another record with that name, so now I don’t know what I’m calling it. This record is song-centric. It could be summed as songs with ambient drones and textures, like Olagra, like Consciousness of Light, but, presently, there’s only one instrumental track.
It’s been with no shortage of self-consciousness, which is likely why it’s taken me 15 years and more start/stops that I can recall, to make the songs the focal point. I’ve loved my exploration of sound and textures and raw, unbridled creativity, but I’ve also felt, at times, emotionally absent from those recordings, perhaps its the lack of ego in that music and perhaps it’s a good thing. Perhaps the songs are the ego’s way of pulling me into myself rather than focusing on a music that’s beyond myself and not about me. That’s plausible, but I have to take the journey. No shortcuts.
So, yeah, that’s where things are. I’m writing songs. I’m singing songs. I’ve called it ambient folk, drone folk and dreamt up many more marketing categories to try and relay, in a few words, what I’m trying to achieve. It just doesn’t work that way.
I hope you’ll stay with me, but I understand that, as a friend once told me as a punchline to a joke: “I’m not interested in growing with you as an artist; just play the hits.”
I’ve been ‘woodshedding’ for the last 18 months or so, trying to find that sweet spot between ambient and songwriting that I began in 2004 with Olagra, and I’ve been exploring ever since, never quite able to capture the sound I imagined and heard in my head. Well, I’ve finally got something, a process, a sound that stands up to repeated listens. It’s ambient, it drones, it’s sonically interesting, but these are songs that I’ve crafted, words and singing that integrates my being into the music… it can be listened to or ignored, to hearken back to what Eno said regarding what an ambient music should be.
For a while I was calling it Drone Folk, maybe it is or it isn’t… Either way, I’ve finally hit the mark, captured the lightning in the bottle and merged two sides of my creative self, successfully.
The new recording is called Consciousness of Light. It’s only on Bandcamp right now. I’ll be submitting it to my distributor soon (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.), but I wanted to give you, in my email community, first crack at this. Consciousness of Light is an EP. I believe that I’ll have a follow-up, full-length done early in 2020, as I have dozens of songs that I’m looking to work into this new process.
I’m super excited about this new recording and I plan to be performing it live as my entire new process is also something that I can recreate for the live audience; that’s really the second exciting dimension of this new direction. To that end, I’ll also be putting up live videos from time to time on my YouTube page – https://www.youtube.com/user/mattborghi
I just wanted to take a minute and feature some of my lesser-known songwriting work. There’s the serious songs, which I put in air quotes, that’s the first playlist and then there’s the stuff that I do as Matt Bird, which is silly, jokey, bathroom humorey; fun to do…
I’ve started this record dozens of times and each time I stalled, each time it fell to the wayside and didn’t go any further. There have been so many start/stops that I assumed this record would never get made. An attempt at this record was created under my own name from 2006, called Olagra… Originally, Olagra was an idea created in quiet room, then it was a band and then a record that had some allusion to the original ideas and some fragments of the band; but those were little more than sketches. After that Olagra was little more than a haunting sentiment floating in the aether nagging me, constantly reminding me of what could have been, maybe what should have been, but certainly, categorically what wasn’t… until it was: Winter Eyes.
Winter Eyes, is the definitive recording of songs that I was writing in 2004 and 2005, and beyond with all of the psych folk, AM 70s light rock and mellow gold that I could mine. It, simultaneously, contains allusions to all these things, while being none of those things. I can find no category to put it in. It just is. I’ve called it ‘psych folk’, but now I call it droneFolk. as good of a label as any I can find, as it’s primarily acoustic and folky, but it’s also rich, sonically, as I chose not to pursue mutually exclusive paths of acoustic conservatism or strict synthesized sonics; instead, I’ve opted to pursue both, equally, simultaneously.
That period of the mid-aughts was special for me, because after a hiatus of more than ten years focusing on sound, rather than songs, I was quite compelled to go back to songwriting, which was where I started, as a wee pup, to begin with. Once I started getting going with the songs I found that they were too personal (too precious) to commodify and bring to life as a “project” or a published recording. I couldn’t separate myself from them enough to do that with the work. Even now, I struggle with this. I think that’s why there were so many false starts. Eventually, I made peace with the “songs” as a creative path and through that catharsis realized that I was obligated to share this music out, as I had first envisioned it, but wasn’t quite able to capture, so many years before. I’ve done that now.
Ambient Guitar is Matt Borghi’s first solo recording capturing the style of performance that he’s usually only done with saxophonist, Michael Teager, as part of their Borghi | Teager duo. With Ambient Guitar, Matt Borghi’s influences are on full display, from a resonant acknowledgement of Brian Eno, in the manner of production and texture to melodic elements that fuse in Harold Budd, Robert Fripp and the late Jerry Garcia that’s particularly reminiscent of his work on the Zabriskie Point soundtrack.
Matt Borghi’s Ambient Guitar is a texturally rich, unassuming and restrained recording that highlights Matt Borghi at his musical best.
Ambient Guitar is available in a variety of formats at the links below, including:
Hey there. About ten years ago I released a recording called All Points North under the Manitou pseudonym. It was my second letterpress-printed CD edition and a love letter to the city of Detroit, my home, for all intents and purposes. It was impressionistic with reflections on time and experience, but also not, a “Matt Borghi” record… I went into kind of a different process and different state of mind to make that record.
Ten years on, over the summer of 2015, I decided to visit that mindspace again and created a new Manitou record, possibly the last, this is a historical reflection on the city of Detroit, the city of my family, the city of my ancestry. For me, there’s little reflection on or identification with the northern Italy of my great grandparents and my family name, nor is there much reflection on my Scotch-Irish Appalachian roots, instead, I’m a Detroiter, quintessentially, of mixed ethnic origin, steeped in many cultures and many experiences with an overtone of post-industrial morose and a hopeful optimism for tomorrow’s future. So, this is a long-winded way to say that the latest Manitou record is out. All of the tracks are named after things in 19th and early 20th century Detroit, the Detroit that I heard stories about on the knees of grandparents and looked at longingly in books when we were the “Paris of the Midwest”. That’s it. There’s not much more for me to say. I hope you enjoy the recording and enjoy the experience.
Links for listening, purchase, etc…
Amazon – http://amzn.to/1kB9P5R