Abyss Versions is the seventh album from Boduf Songs. It’s out October 4 on Orindal Records. Mat Sweet, the man behind Boduf Songs, goes into the abyss with this new album. Sweet’s dusky vocals are quiet and intimate, a communion between himself and the listener. And he has tales to tell. Shhh. Come closer.
A gentle electric guitar uses crisp, repeating melodies to conjure up fireside feels. Sweet has spent the better part of fifteen years honing his particular style, and the vocals don’t need to be loud to be powerful. On the contrary, the quieter a piece of music, the more potent it can be. Volume doesn’t always equal power. Instead, an inner power is released through voice and subdued, clear guitar. Like a black belt martial artist, the music’s efficient. No unnecessary muscles are involved, and there aren’t any wasted movements. The result is a dark and contained record, albeit a naturally-occurring darkness. It wants to go to that nocturnal place, curling up and finding a semblance of safe shelter within the shadows. For whatever reason, that’s the music’s instinct. It’s inclined to go there, and Sweet has been to this place many times before, not so much a hunting ground as it is a haunting ground. Soft atmospheres from the void tickle against the guitar. Their presence is felt more than heard, but they leave fingerprints on the tracks.
In Abyss Versions, it’s possible to hear Sweet’s background in doom metal, which still bleeds into the music by way of a dark bass or a flickering shadow. Inside the mix, broken electronics send conflicting signals which blend in with a looping, stationary note, and the darkness can overwhelm. That’s the main feature of ‘Behold, I have Graven Thee Upon the Palms of My Hands; Thy Walls are Continually Before Me’. Lights are severed and the only emission is a pitch-black bass.
Glimmers of light come from the guitar’s full-sounding chords. Sleep-addled though they are, the brighter major chords gleam like lights on dull metal, apparitions of sunlight through a thick carpet of leaves. Everything feels very delicate. Tape experiments, drum machines, and incantations all meet the billowing sound of an approaching train trapped inside its tunnel, and the feeling of something rapidly approaching. Painfully-sad thoughts hold the album up on a crooked frame. It’s tired and drooping, longing for someone, and the melodic novocaine never quite takes the pain away. The music only numbs for a while, and once it stops, pain returns. But if you hold onto something for long enough, it can rot in your hands.
You’ll find a lot of heart and beauty within this album, its semi-colon tattoo bearing witness to the continuation of its story and not the ending of it, and it’s all too aware of its fragile mortality. ‘Highlights of Void’ closes the album. The piano falls on the music, covering it in a steady stream of melodic rain. Recordings of rain and thunder close the album, emptying it. The patter of rain is the music of loneliness and want and longing and melancholy, and that’s an abyss. But rain also cleanses and purges. Abyss Versions is music from the soul, downtrodden but not out, recalling a dark time and whispering from a dark room. It was born there.