The Reveries Matchmakers

The Reveries
Matchmakers Volume 1: The Music of Willie Nelson
Rat-Drifting CD

The Reveries are one of the core configurations of improvisers who record for Toronto’s Rat-Drifting label. Composed of Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli and Eric Chenaux (whose mutant folk stylings have recently appeared on Constellation), The Reveries are a woozy jug band that sing and play songs under conditions involving various physical and acoustic handicaps and distortions, notably tiny “mouth speakers” places inside their mouths that act like natural wah wah pedals for whatever sounds are transmitted through them. The result is a necessary drift towards what is called improvisation, a hazy psychedelia where their sweet harmonies and Neil Young guitar playing go gently off the radar. Previous recordings such as Live in Bologna and Blasé Kisses have explored standards such as “Moonlight in Vermont” creating eccentric drifting lines between Frank Sinatra and Captain Beefheart. Matchmakers vol. 1 consists of versions of a number of Willie Nelson songs – the group have also done remarkable sets of Nick Cave, Sade and Prince songs live. The concreteness of Nelson’s songs means that they are strong enough to support all manner of improvisation and digression, meaning that the pleasure of song structure and narrative are never far away, no matter what kind of spluttering storm the “mouth speakers”, “street sweeper bristle bass” and chattering guitars, which collectively sound like a drunken orchestra of mouth harps, are cooking up. In fact, the personal and lyrical apocalypses found in songs like “I’ve Just Destroyed the World I’m Living In” or “Crazy”, are almost waiting to be stripped gently but lovingly of the country and western generic shapes that they are usually wrapped in. “Matchmakers” implies an unlikely but timely and happy event of love, a moment of recognition, and the Reveries love for these songs is obvious. In this, their finest recording so far, the biggest surprise is how much the songs love them back.

Originally published in The Wire, 2008.

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