[sic] Magazine

Slow Meadow – Happy Occident

Slow Meadow is the solo ambient project of Matt Kidd. Having previously created post-rock/orchestral music under the name Aural Method, Kidd took a break from releasing music of his own until entering into friendship with Hammocks Marc Byrd. Byrd encouraged Kidd to get back in the saddle and signed him to his own label. Happy Occident is Slow Meadows third long playing release for Hammock Music.

Gentle piano and other traditional instruments are at the heart of this project. ‘Stellarum Fixarum’ the albums opening piece feels like a ‘middle’ in the way it just drops the listener into a muddled ebb and flow of varied downtempo styles. Other tracks are more focused. ‘Artificial Algorithm’ has something of the Les Revenants era, Mogwai about it. ‘The Future Belongs To Ghosts’ show that less is often more when it comes to capturing that meandering sensation, while ‘Pareidolia’ could give Einaudi a run for his money in meditative minimalism.

‘Helium Life Jacket’ – puts me in mind of The Album Leaf or Jimmy LaValle’s collaboration with Mark Kozelek (eg ‘Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails’ from Perils From The Sea). The violin that punctuates (and informs) several pieces of this record come courtesy of Ellen Story.

Happy Occident is a gentle collection that stealthily envelops the listener. To call instrumental music “reflective” often feels somewhat of a cop out. In the case of Slow Meadow it is apt. Certain bodies of work, soundtracks for example, inform proceedings, telling us how to feel at any given moment. Happy Occident doesn’t do this. It rocks us back and forth like a nurturing mother. It allows us to go within ourselves for meaning.

That being said, the album certainly has a theme. The title, Happy Occident is more than just a clever play on words. What does it mean to be happy in todays Western World? Have we lost sight of the words meaning? The Greek philosophers had a word Eudaimonia – roughly translated as ‘achieving the best conditions possible for human flourishing’. I will leave you to form your own opinions on just how far we have developed since Aristotle.

At least music has made advances. This is really quite lovely.

Album release October 18th. Own it on digital or vinyl in the colour of your own choosing.