Matt Elliott is the man behind Third Eye Foundation, one of those groups for which the post-rock acronym was used for the first time, but he is also the author of “Drinking songs“, one of the greatest masterpieces of the ’00s, where the electronic and frontal disturbances of  Third Eye Foundation gave way (but not quite) to poignant sea songs, able to evoke fictional grandeur and mitteleuropean spleen.

Of course, the Bristol musician is all these things and more, but as far as I am concerned, as of yesterday, he is also the man who, in the intimate space of Milan’s Ligera, enchanted everyone present with the sole aid of his guitar, his voice, and a loop station.
Such meager equipment proved more than enough to make the most of the beauty of songs capable of placing themselves outside of time and eschewing most of the characteristics that the label “singer-songwriter” would suggest.
Between his hands (which touch the classical guitar with the grace and skill of a flamenco player) and his voice (which manages to move from the low, but not confidential tones of Leonard Cohen of the Greek beaches to the delicate fragilities of Nina Simone) pass melodies that evoke the nineteenth-century England of R.L. Stevenson and the more depressed England of David Pearce and that reach to the French court of Leo Ferré, meeting on the way the biblical afflatus of Melville’s America.

Last night Matt presented some (excellent) songs that will be included in his next album coming out in a few months, and he found time to include two covers (a poignant and very delicate “I put a spell on you” and the anarchic chant, sung in Italian, “Il galeone”). When he asked the audience for a song of their choice, the choice fell on “The Kursk”, which was rendered in a way that words alone really cannot describe.

Matt Elliott - The Kursk

But we were talking about the loop station.
Yes, because Matt – not content with singing beautifully (despite complaining about problems with his voice), having an amazing fingerpicking technique on the guitar, and being able to rely on songs capable of tearing your heart apart on their own – in concerts decided to raise the stakes, giving life to a symphony for layered sounds, played, recorded and then overlapped in loops.

And so, while being wrapped in the polyphony of a dozen guitars and overlapping vocal lines, it really seemed that the small hall of the Ligera had turned into the galley of a ship, lulled by a fatal ocean, but pacified by the singing of the different sailors personified by Matt.
And the yearning of music has translated into a strange sense of loss.
As if the beauty and visceral quality of the performance were so absolute that it was impossible to handle.
As if every note that came was already “past”.
The fullness of life, beauty, and perfection of which it is never possible to enjoy enough. Like sand slipping from the hands, caressing them, or water flowing into the darkest and most maternal womb of the ocean.