Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Sieben - Sex & Wildflowers

Sex & Wildflowers is the latest release from the prodigious Sieben. Sieben, as regular Compulsion online readers know is the solo musical vehicle of Matt Howden, producer extraordinaire and up until recently a pivotal member of Sol Invictus. Sex & Wildflowers follows such releases as Forbid the Sun's Escape, The Line and the Hook, A Solitary Confinement and the solo CD Hellfires and in many ways represents the apex of Howden's career to date.

Sex & Wildflowers is an accomplished proposition lyrically and musically. It's thematically connected through the entwining of wildflowers with sex. On his website Matt points out that most of these wildflowers have name related to sex - A brief look at the old, common names for these plants gives us Lady's Mantle, Proud Soldier, Nun's Clitoris, Lady in the Bath etc. - so it isn't too surprising to find that Sex & Wildflowers is particularly bawdy and lustful. 'John In The Pulpit' is a rather suggestive lyric derived from the names of wildflowers while Matt positively rasps over a particularly guitar oriented backing. 'Love's Promise' appears to tackle this in a much more affectionate and humorous manner. 'Knudlustysummer' is a medieval folk ballad much in the style of 'Wormwood Doll' from Wormwood the latest collaboration with Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus. I have a lot of time for these dramatic music and narrative lyric. The directness of 'Bleeding Heart' is an affirmation of life, and naturally it pulls no punches. 'Loki, Lust and Punishment' is an acoustic based track in something of neo-folk style while ' Deathlust' features a riveting climatic finale: all soaring and sweeping strings. 'Spring Snowdrop' is positively stirring - "We who sleep must now awake - those who rest we leave behind" - and a beautiful opener that recalls Equinox era Coil.

By teasing out the sexual elements of these traditional British wildflowers Howden has created something celebratory, and something magical. Some may say Pagan. Sex & Wildflowers is a classy, varied release with recurring enhanced and developed string and melody sections.

There's a melancholic air about the music of Sieben. The instrumentation is in the tradition of folk music, but the delivery is darker, and decidedly more dramatic. Sex & Wildflowers has been composed and recorded with the intention of recreating it live and as such each part is reproducible live using loop pedals, beating rhythms on the violin body to create beats or plucking strings. This studio version has been augmented by other instrumentation but the guiding force remains Matt's scintillating violin score as it leads a merry dance through terse sections to joyous melodies.

Matt Howden is such a passionate performer I expect he is relishing the opportunity to perform this in front of a live audience. And so he should, Sex & Wildflowers is a commendable piece of work, and further proof of his remarkable talent. For more information go to