Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

High Broad Field – Sieben [#586]

R-3966307-1350801376-8852Last time we saw neofolk violinist Sieben on the music project was when he was supporting pagan folk band Faun on their live compilation Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival. This time Matt Howden whacks on his Sieben hat and applies his violin skills to his sixth release.

Howden’s style is very distinct. Lots of staccato and wood slapping violin wizardry with tense sustained notes overlain with perfectly pronounced dark lyrics multitracked and layered down with loops. As I’ve said before on the Music Project, Howden’s musical prowess is virtually unknown on the British scene which is a real shame, he really has a great talent which is well known throughout Europe but with little recognition in the UK.

High Broad Field is the preceding album to his Desire Rights and is a very close kin stylistically to the same. Elements from Sex and Wildflowers and Ogham Inside the Night are evident and one can hear aspects of Desire Rights in their infancy throughout the album. Delicious silky music for those who think Nigel Kennedy is a bit shit.

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Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival – Faun [#463]

Unknown-1Yet another visit from Music Project denizens Faun who’s last appearance was in January 2015.

This is Faun’s 5th album and their 1st live recorded in Utrecht in 2007. I don’t remember ordering this CD but it arrived on my door mat one morning at a time in my life when I was actively listening to the Aural Apocalypse as a way to discover new and interesting bands in the darkwave/neofolk genres. I suspect that I heard them on there first, but then I’m not sure because this live concert also features guest spots by In Gowan Ring and Sieben, both artists that appear on the fabled Looking for Europe Neofolk Compendium.

Regardless, I remember listening to it for the first time only to hear the lead singer proclaim

“Please welcome on stage Mr Matt Howden”

Matt Howden (aka Sieben, Sheffield’s own neofolk superstar) then begins to play his violin along to Rad to much audience satisfaction. Wow. But then, to further turn the album into a squee fest, Faun do a cover of my favourite Sieben song Love’s Promise. Mind. Blown.

It was this album that made me realise that the tight community of internet backed musicians collaborate, much like the old Prog musicians of Yore, making me feel all warm and tingly inside. It also made me realise that Germany and continental Europe have a much more diverse and vibrant musical culture than the UK claims itself has.


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Desire Rites – Sieben [#363]

Desire rites - Sieben [#363] We’ve met Sheffield violinist Matt Howden in his alternate guise of Sieben on the Music Project before. This was the first album I bought by Sieben having previously only heard the artist on the Looking for Europe neofolk compendium.

On this album Howden shows how his cheeky humorous side can be laced through his biting observational reflections on various aspects of life. From how the far right have propagated their disgusting agenda through some neofolk to the story of a besotted lonely projectionist, Howden uses this album to set the foundations for his later albums.

If you are new to the neofolk scene, especially the small presence within the genre of British artists, the talented Sieben/Matt Howden’s album Desire Rites is a nice intro.

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As They Should Sound – Sieben [#92]

R-1730301-1243429875As They Should Sound – Sieben

I used to think that the UK led the world in good music. In arrogance, I believed that the world revered our music and that all the performing artists met up regularly, performed and people got to know who they were and what they sounded like.

I was 14 then.

I now know the music industry in the UK is a cut throat, back stabbing, incestuous institution insidiously managed by suited Y List celebrities such as Cowell, Waterman and Walsh. Telling the easily led British public that they will only like “this” rather than “that” and denying the promotion of “that” because “This” is more likely to make money. Unfortunately, then came the internet and “illicit” downloads. Many artists will argue that illegal downloads destroyed their career. Bollocks it did. In many cases, illegal downloads propagated your reach and you probably made fans who would never have heard of you by other methods.

One such artist is Sheffield neo-folk violinist, Matt Howden. Mr Howden has two hats. Classical sensible arty farty soundtrack hat – Matt Howden. And then, there is dark, arty, creative Neofolk artist – Sieben. I first discovered Sieben on a compilation that I “Obtained” called “Looking for Europe” which acted as a catalogue for the little-known Neo-folk/Darkfolk subgenre popular in the mid to late noughties. On this catalogue was a little track called “Love’s Promise” performed by Sieben.

Intrigued I looked up the artist and discovered that he actually only lived down the road from where I lived at the time and yet I had not heard of him. No local posters advertising gigs, no mentions in the local press. Who was this guy? Turned out Mr Howden is hugely popular in Europe where he tours and plays various festivals such as Wave Gotik Treffen, Castlefest and the like. Much loved. Highly revered.  Virtually unknown in his home country.

I aim to stop this.  I then sought out all his work, and, because I am impressed with his work, I bought, yes, paid for, every album he made. THAT is how music should be.

Sieben’s, As they Should Sound is a kind of remix/ best of compilation where Howden has taken his favourite tracks and rejigged them to how they should sound. A good introduction to the darkfolk/neofolk genre and an even better introduction to Sieben as an artist.


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