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The Third Eye Foundation
As we are now celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of The Third Eye Foundation's Semtex, one of the most influential drum & bass albums of its time, it is worthwhile revisiting the career of Matt Elliott, its composer. Because it is fair to suggest that there's a before and an after Semtex, as this effort laid the foundations for Matt's artistic approach from the following years right up until now.
Matt was not even 16 while he decided to stop his studies to devote himself to his passion for music. He got a job at the famous Revolver Records in Bristol, a shop that was later the topic of Richard King's book “Original Rockers” which explains how it influenced the spread of indie music and especially trip hop. This was an experience that profoundly influenced Matt and a period in which he forged his musical culture. Back in those days, Matt was also DJing in Bristol clubs though he wasn't even 18 and not legally allowed to enter those clubs.
Since 1993, under The Third Eye name, he appeared on albums by Movietone and Flying Saucer Attack, and started his own band with Kate Wright and Rachel Brooks - Linda's Strange Vacation, which later became the name of his own micro-label on which he released the very first songs from The Third Eye Foundation. In 1995, Matt was one of the very few artists involved in the tribute album to the famous US Krautrock duo Silver Apples, Electronics Evocations. He was then invited to open for them on their US reunion tour. By the age of 20, Matt had already been involved in nearly every area of the music industry. But the story was only just beginning.
In 1996, he finally released his first album as The Third Eye Foundation, Semtex, on his own label with support from Domino Recordings (the beginning of a long standing collaboration). It was recorded in a squat which he shared with Matt Jones from Crescent, on a 4 track recorder borrowed from Dave Pearce from Flying Saucer Attack. It was mixed with headphones way too loud which resulted in permanent hearing loss at around 3 khz. The result is brutal and uncompromising, and features a mix of noisy ripped up guitars and hectic drum machines with Debbie Parsons' vocals on some songs. Semtex is the antithesis of electronic dancefloor music and was to brand its style into Matt's discography where social unrest, loneliness, political confusion, anger and anti-establishment feelings are regular themes. The Third Eye Foundation have released 5 albums in total along with a large number of singles, EPs, collaborations and remixes with the last being the particularly well-named The Dark (2010, Ici D'Ailleurs).
The rest of the story is better known. Matt Elliott progressively gave up working on his laptop to develop his guitar playing and vocal skills which are now central to his “solo” discography starting with the hybrid The Mess We Made (2003), the impressive, large-scale Songs trilogy (2004-2009) or the more optimistic Only Myocardial Infarcation Can Break Your Heart (2013). However, the ghost of The Third Eye Foundation is never far away and Matt likes to reactivate the project from time to time. He has particularly remixed many bands and prestigious artists in the last 20 years including Tarwater, Blonde Redhead, Mogwai, Ulver, Yann Tiersen or Thurston Moore. The latter invited him to play under the Brooklyn Bridge alongside Sonic Youth in 1997.
For Semtex's 20th anniversary, this is more than a simple reissue. The original tracklisting will be enhanced with no less than 23 rare or previously unreleased songs, most of them recorded on cassettes between 1991 and 1997 and now especially remastered by Anders Peterson. This new edition is an opportunity to take a fresh look at Matt's long career. Above all, those archives which even the most obsessive collector cannot already fully own testify to The Third Eye Foundation's never-say-die and corrosive attitude.
You should play it loud, very loud... though there is a risk of ending up completely shattered by these three hours of music of rare scope and scale.
Next shows :
01.07.16 Lublin (PL) @ Sounds of Words Festival
Past gigs :
12.12.11 Soirées Nomades / Fondation Cartier / PARIS
16.10.11 Mylos Club / Thessaloniki / GRECE
19.05.11 BRUSSELS (BE) @ Festival Les Nuits Botanique
05.05.11 BREST (FR) @ La Carène
13.04.11 NANTES (FR) @ L'Olympic
28.06.12 METZ / Cloître des Trinitaires - CONCERT GRATUIT @ Les Trinitaires
23.11.15 Livorno (IT) @ Teatro Aurora
24.11.15 San Gemini (Terni - IT) @ Degustazioni Musicali Umbria
25.11.15 Avellino (IT) @ Godot
26.11.15 Roma (IT) Init
27.11.15 Loreto (Ancona - IT) @ Reasonanz
28.11.15 Bologna (IT) @ Freakout
29.11.15 Milan (IT) @ Biko
''A while of grace " (Obsküre)
''A beautiful showpiece in black similar to a sound tsunami ''(Les Inrockuptibles)''
''Listening to The Dark provides an unlimited pleasure'' (ELEGY)
''Those who let them hypnotize by the beauty of this recording will notice the heavy silence it leaves in its wake ( Magic)
''The beautiful album ''The dark'' is a new bad trip in the darkness of the human soul'' (Vibrations)
''Orchestral and cinematic'' (Noise)
''An enchanting work coming from electronica and the minimalist symphonic current'' (Mondomix)
''The dark is a beautiful black diamond'' (20minutes)
''Happy reunion for a dark disc shooted at the melancholy'' (L'etudiant)
''From this spellbinding low key emanates an absolute beauty'' (L'Alsace)
''One of the electro-ambient genuis, depressed but very moving'' (Ouest France)
''The foundation's inside wealth is revealed and its hypnotic force is at work'' (LYLO)
''The Dark relates in 5movements a showpiece with the obsessions of Matt Elliott'' ( PRESTO)
''Sublime and enchanting'' (NOVO)
''A view and a unique personage'' (SORTIR D'ICI)
''A wonderful suite'' (FROGGY DELIGHT)
''This album is a delight'' (MUSIC LODGE)
''A success, for sure (Liability Webzine)
''His uniqueness draws the attention (POSITIVE RAGE)
''Sourrounding and vaporous pieces'' (MOWNO)
''A magical enclave that made forget the time'' (MYGMUSIQUE)
''The dark the ultime album of his 15 last years'' (SOUNDOFVIOLENCE)
''An almost perfect compromise between the solo work of Matt Elliott and the work of the Third Eye Foundation'' (LE GOLB)
''Small electronic bomb which explodes on us with a percinious sweetness'' (TOUJOURSUNCOUPDAVANCE)
''A dark and chaotic soundtrack, difficult to describe and we can't get rid of it'' (LAMIXLETTER)
''A kind of perfect and sucessfull outcome'' (ZICAZIC)