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Matterhorn — Outside
(Apollon Records ARP025, 2020, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-07-25

Outside Cover art

This Trondheim band was formed in 2017, though its roots stretch a few years further back, when Tommy Sebastian Halseth started writing the material that the then-theoretical group would perform. For the debut album, it’s actually unclear whether Matterhorn is a band or not: Edvin Matthieseon (bass, guitars), Andreas Stunes (drums, percussion, keyboards), and Halseth (vocals) are the only musicians to appear on every track. Rhys Marsh (guitar, keyboards, percussion) contributes a whole slew of instruments to four of the eight tracks, and a variety of other musicians provide additional sounds here and there, notably Jacob Holm-Lupo’s lead guitar on one song. Stylistically, Matterhorn fits in with the post-Porcupine Tree school of Nordic progressive rock: melodic and accessible, atmospheric at times, and complex enough to place itself slightly outside the mainstream. One thing that’s notably absent is any hint of metal, so classic references might be Camel and Pink Floyd or early Wigwam, and a more modern Scandinavian comparison would be Needlepoint — they definitely do not venture into the darker territory of Anekdoten. Marsh’s participation will of course bring to mind Kaukasus, The Opium Cartel, and his solo work, though his stamp on Matterhorn doesn’t rob them of their own sound, partly due to having Halseth singing. Halseth has a pleasant singing voice, and his English sometimes has a noticeable accent, though not distractingly so. Keyboards provide the core of the sound, especially organ, with plenty of Mellotron and other vintage tones. Guitar is mostly secondary aside from the occasional solo, clean tones are favored, and acoustic shows up here and there. Stunes’ drums are an important factor as well, with lots of great patterns involving the toms. Outside was not an immediate winner for me, but repeated listens have shown its worth — this is a solid set of tunes that venture a bit into progressive territory, but are most focussed on the songwriting rather than instrumental cleverness.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Rhys Marsh, Jacob Holm-Lupo / Telepath, Matterhorn

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