By Hrayr Attarian
Matt Gold Imagined Sky
Matt Gold – Electric and acoustic guitars, voice (5), analog synthesizer (2, 8), Wurlitzer electric piano (2, 7), Mellotron (5)
Bryan Doherty – Electric bass
Jeremy Cunningham – Drums
Macie Stewart – Voice (2)
Sara Serpa – Voice (8)
Dan Pierson – Analog synthesizer (1, 3)
Myra Hinrichs – Violin (5)
Matt Ulery – Double bass (5)
Guitarist Matt Gold creates kaleidoscopic music on his genre-bending debut as a leader, Imagined Sky. Utilizing, in addition to his guitars, various electric keyboards, Gold paints impressionistic soundscapes that brim with mysticism. He seamlessly melds different stylistic elements into a unique and captivating whole.
For instance, “Always Starting Over” has an intimate, folkish vibe with Gold deftly layering hypnotic chords over drummer Jeremy Cunningham’s restless, rustling beats. Gold alternates between acoustic guitar and Wurlitzer piano and—although his refrains do not meander far from the melody—they undulate and shimmer with vibrancy and elegance.
Similarly absorbing is the rock-influenced “Augusta Fairgrounds.” Gold constructs the main theme out of blistering chords while Cunningham drives the performance with his propulsive rhythms. Bassist Brian Doherty’s understated vamps buoy and anchor his bandmates' exchanges. Multi-instrumentalist Dan Pierson contributes dramatic synth vamps to this intensely passionate and multilayered track.
Gold also features two guest vocalists. The virtuosic Sara Serpa graces the haunting “Petrichor” with her singular singing. Like in an otherworldly dream, Serpa’s voice floats over sparkling strings and cinematic synthesizer notes. This psychedelic fairy tale is definitely one of the highlights of this superb album.
Elsewhere, the versatile Macie Stewart articulates the poetry of the rocking “Queen Anne” with graceful and cinematic flair. Different keyboards and the trio’s pulsating cadence weave an electrifying backdrop for this energetic song. Gold himself sings on the warm and sparse “Truehearted.” Violinist Myra Hinrichs and bassist Matt Ulery contribute understated phrases, enhancing the old-timey feel of the piece.
Gold brings some dynamic spontaneity to the country-ish “Bottom of the Barrel.” An expansive original, the ensemble plays it with acerbic bravado and brilliant wit. Its inner synergy, perhaps, is best demonstrated when the three musicians embellish the tune together as a single unit.
Imagined Sky showcases Gold’s individuality and his superlative musicianship. What the recording lacks in improvisational rigor it makes up for in charismatic interpretations of truly enthralling compositions. In sum, this is an auspicious start to Gold’s solo career and a delightful and rewarding listening experience.