Guitarist Matt Geary pours a ton of emotion into 25 minutes of ambient-tinged, folk-infused instrumentals on The Silent Watcher, The Mountain Is Woe. Raw, beautiful, potent emotion that drills straight into the listener. Citing classical music and raga as his compositional influences, Geary varies his velocity from thoughtful picking to frenzied strumming, then surrounds the sound with interesting electronic touches and frequent accompaniment from piano. He works in rapidly shifting dynamics; quite often the guitar bursts in, shouting, to shatter and change a quiet moment. Then, having exhausted its say and its energy, lets the song cool back down toward that quieter place. The opener, “Line of Desapair,” introduces us to that motif in fine style. For the first 30 seconds or so, we’re lead to believe we’re in a quiet-yet-organic space of guitar ambient. Then boom—Geary is hammering at the strings while a low drone holds a steady line underneath. There’s a nice tempo shift at the two-minute mark that brings us down to the close. “Life on Wires” opens in an energetic place, crisply strummed lines meeting up with a three-chord phrase on organ that then spreads into a long pad. The guitar carries on its own song without breaking stride. Piano takes the front on “They Speak to Me in Sleep” before handing it over to the guitar. Here Geary plays with the sound, the plucking of the strings taking on a springy, echoing twang. Again, drones support the backdrop. It’s a quick piece, but effective. On “Mantras,” the album really hits stride, and the balance of guitar to pads, of energy to calm, is at its best. It builds to a big crescendo and then Geary lets it glide back down, the crush of sound he’s built just finding its own way out. There are one or two spots on The Silent Watcher… where the sound gets a bit confusing. It feels like Geary is trying to cram too much into a single space. Coming into and heading out of “Remedies for Shaking Hands,” Geary tries blending a couple of thoughts and ends up overlapping them. It literally lead me to check my computer to see if another sound file had started for some reason. The chords rising against the guitar felt like they were headed in their own direction, and it pulled me out of the moment. As much as I like “Life on Wires,” it happens there as well, around the middle. It’s a minor quibble, however, in a set of work this strong. The songs themselves are solid enough that you’ll find yourself humming along, and the treatments are deep enough to really dive into. Geary understands both sides of that equation well. The Silent Watcher, The Mountain Is Woe is a short debut, but one that also promises a lot of interesting work to come. I have a feeling Matt Geary is just getting started. Have a listen, and if you like what you hear, keep an ear on him going forward.
Available from Fluttery Records.