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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matachin
Fun, lively, sinister; pure Bellowhead. This is a wonderful album that really shows how the band has developed since Burlesque. Burlesque was good, but at times it felt like 'the Spiers and Boden band' rather than showing Bellowhead up in all its glory. Matachin rectifies this in style. The arrangements are well thought out and the ensemble is top notch, and full of the...
Published on 24 Sep 2008 by M. Clarke

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Burlesque
Matachin suffers, IMHO, from too many cooks. Where Burlesque was very strongly directed by Spiers and Boden, this one seems to be a truly democratic and communal offering and as a result ends up just muddled at times. Pity, because the opener Fakenham Fair is as good as anything you'll ever hear. Stunning musicianship and harmonies, brass, strings and rhythm re-energizing...
Published on 21 Jan 2009 by Huck Flynn


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matachin, 24 Sep 2008
By 
M. Clarke - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
Fun, lively, sinister; pure Bellowhead. This is a wonderful album that really shows how the band has developed since Burlesque. Burlesque was good, but at times it felt like 'the Spiers and Boden band' rather than showing Bellowhead up in all its glory. Matachin rectifies this in style. The arrangements are well thought out and the ensemble is top notch, and full of the band's trademark quirkiness. I challenge you to keep still!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the unique, thoroughly live, irrepressible and irreplaceable Bellowhead, 29 Oct 2008
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This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
If you have an ear each side of your head rather than a collection of labels, prejudices and musical anxieties, if your spirit is actually moved by music, if you got (any) rhythm, if you've heard/seen them live or haven't and wish their tour schedule was wider and longer, if ... hang on. Why are you still reading this? Try a few sample bits off iTunes or whatever and then buy the CD. You'll see it's not "just" folk yet grows from the tradition, and it doesn't mess folk up merely to be trendy. It's music with bottom and also plenty of top, bursting at the seams yet carefully considered and controlled, it tells stories but it doesn't ramble on with its finger in its ear, it can fight you and it can soothe you, it's highly entertaining and unexpected, it has real integrity it's...unique.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely but less bounce per ounce...., 23 Sep 2008
I love Bellowhead in a slightly unhealthy, groupie-like way - because they are not what I think of as traditional folk, but an altogether bouncier and more inspirational form of music (meaning no offence to die-hard folkies). The band themselves, of course, are knee-deep in the knowledge and tradition of British Folk - and it shows more clearly on this album than on Burlesque. Songs like Fakenham Fair and the others here will appeal strongly to the trad folk fans as well as the hardened Bellowhead-heads; but are slightly less foot-tapping than you might expect. The production also seems a little unbalanced, drowning Jon Boden's voice a little on those tracks where the narrative is especially important. For those likely to be disappointed by that, get the album on iTunes where there seems to be a funky extra track, Unclothed Nocturnal Manuscript Crisis, that doesn't appear on the CD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Burlesque, 21 Jan 2009
By 
Huck Flynn "huckleberry" (northern ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Matachin suffers, IMHO, from too many cooks. Where Burlesque was very strongly directed by Spiers and Boden, this one seems to be a truly democratic and communal offering and as a result ends up just muddled at times. Pity, because the opener Fakenham Fair is as good as anything you'll ever hear. Stunning musicianship and harmonies, brass, strings and rhythm re-energizing a tuneful old folk song. Thereafter the song choice is not as consistently strong. Roll Her Down The Bay is repetitive and boring, Cholera Camp too long and meandering, Spectre Review and Widow's Curse unexceptional and cluttered, and the half minute Vignettes fairly pointless. In the other stronger moments, I Drew My Ship, Bruton Town and Trip to Bucharest, the arrangements seem more focused but the album lacks the lingering, catchy melodies of its predecessor and I suspect, sadly, that I won't listen to it very often. Another point, in terms of mixing and arrangement, Jon Boden's voice is often overpowered, and sometimes the original rhythm or theme of the track is lost amidst the complex counter orchestration, where less might be more. Unlike Burlesque then, Matachin veers perilously close to becoming a hybrid musical form and losing touch with its folk roots. It is perhaps trying to be just a bit too clever, but my feeling is that the material chosen isn't strong enough to support the huge weight of instrumentation and ideas. Still very good, mind.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A burlesque collision between a folk band and a big band, 11 Nov 2008
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
The excellent CD booklet that comes with this CD informs us that the name Matachin is enigmatic and of uncertain origin .Originally thought to be Arabic and derived from the word mutawajjihin meaning "mask-wearer" though now it is considered to derive from the Italian mattaccino the diminutive of the meaning matto -mad or fool. This is more apt for this 11 piece band have a certain barmy frisson . There is also a hypothesis that the name comes from an old Spanish sword dance ! This album could make you dance though I suspect it will make your head spin and your knees pop out of their sockets if you do .
Bellowhead are for the uninitiated, which until listening to Matachin I was, like a burlesque collision between a folk band and a big band . The music is expansive and fervently expressive with cello, fiddle, violin, trumpet , trombone, oboe, pipes, mandolin, banjo , concertina and avid percussion. There are elements of jazz, music hall , cabaret, mariachi , traditional folk and it's all done with a playful vigour that doesn't subtract from the wonderfully individual performances.
That booklet also helpfully explains the origin of each song excluding the three short instrumental vignettes dubbed helpfully Vignette one , two , three. To be honest the album wouldn't lose anything if these hadn't been included. However the same cannot be said of tracks like "Widows Curse" a traditional song arranged by Pete Flood with emphatic burgeoning strings and a terrific twittering oboe. Or of "Kafoozalum/The Priests Miss" which again is a trad song arranged by the band and is so completely barmy it would make Jeremy Paxman jig. "Roll Her Down The Bay " a shanty arranged by Pete Flood seems a touch incoherent and slapdash but is actually cleverly arranged .
What is also noticeable is the way the band can cleverly arrange a song to match it's subject matter. The way that Kipling's 1896 poem "Cholera Camp" has wheezy sounding horns or the unearthly trumpet on "Spectre Review" or the woozy but rambunctious "Whiskey Is The Life Of Man" .Then by way of contrast opening track "Fakenham Fair" is more gracious and mannered and the head spinning cello/accordion on "Trip To Bucharest" segueing into "The Flight Of The Folk Mutants Parts 1 & 2" is just a giddy joy.
The vocals by Jon Bodem occasionally struggle to match the intensity and virtuosity of the songs and it made me wonder just how special this band could be if they had a vocalist as unique and powerful as Devotchka .s Nick Urata. None the less in a great year for albums Matachin is another to add to the list. Splendidly singular stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Growth is good!, 15 May 2009
By 
Mr. N. J. Harding (Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
Although I have had the CD since the release date, I have held off reviewing it as I want to be as balanced as possible which only come with repeated listening.

A number of other reviewers on the site have marked the album down with unfavourable comparisons with `Burlesque'. I think that is rather harsh, Matachin builds on where the previous record finishes. Indeed a number of tracks on this release, `Fakenham Fair and `Whiskey is the life of man' for example, would sit very comfortably with those sessions.

However this record grows the Bellowhead experience and introduces new styles of arrangement to their material. Whilst the original EP and Burlesque were very much driven by Spiers & Boden, this record opens up the songs to the wider band and the jazz styling of Rachael McShane is evident in the first half of the records closing track `Trip to Bucharest'. The Benji Kirkpatrick arranged `Kafoozalum' is for me another highlight.

I would expect the next Bellowhead record to continue this theme and that for me is no bad thing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first album, 25 Jun 2009
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You've got to love Bellowhead, but for my money this simply isn't as good as the first album, Burlesque. So if you're wondering, get that one first.

Still worth having though!

Best of all - see them live - they're one of the most thrilling bands you'll ever get to see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better and better, 31 Dec 2008
By 
Mr. J. Stewart "Jim" (St Neots, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
They just keep improving. Probably helped by their joyous, incendiary, ecstatic live performances, Bellowhead's range and reach continue to develop. 'Matachin' marks an inventive new stage in their growth, and I can't wait to hear numbers such as 'Kafoozalum' next time I see them in the flesh. This is fresh, inventive and bursting with life. Highly recommended for anyone who likes their heart being made to beat a bit quicker in time to some of the most original music available. Tremendous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From strength to strength...., 27 Oct 2008
By 
CRB "CRB" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
Another step forward in the new folk revival and the creation and expansion of a more hybrid folk fusion sound that remains all their own. It's fantastic in its scope, but still you can see the opportunity for even greater things to come. Bodens' vision is mind boggling in the simplicity of its component parts, but the creation is complex and immensely satisfying at the same time. These songs are even better live!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly suprised, 12 Jan 2011
This review is from: Matachin (Audio CD)
Having seen Bellowhead on the Jools Holland show, I instantly liked them, but wasn't
sure about buying a complete album.I decided to take the safe option & bought the cheapest Amazon had on offer, which was Matachin at 3.99. I was pleasantly suprised
& from the very first track loved their unique "quirkiness". Their sound is what I
would call quintessentially "English" in the same tradition as the likes of Ray Davies, XTC & my favourite band of all time, Stackridge. (Jon Bodens vocals also remind me of Dave Cousins from that other great English band, The Strawbs) I would
certainly buy another album, what do people recommend?
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