*Album art from Mat Sweet’s debut album “Lion Devours Sun”
Boduf Songs is the stage name of Southampton electro-acoustic musician Mat Sweet. Sweet, having made music since 2004, is a an enigmatic figure that lets his music speak for him over interviews or social media. As such, over the course of several albums certain themes have developed through the work of Sweet, notably concepts of; inevitable decay, loneliness and a peculiar fanaticism with religious iconography.
Since hearing his debut, the self-titled album release in 2004 by Kranky Records, I have found myself obsessed with Sweet’s brooding lyrics and delicate instrumentation. His voice, almost at a whisper, painting these vivid stories of rich with emotional outpour put him in constant rotation. The music of Sweet exists in two, arguably opposing, ways; an immersive emotional experience or relaxing background atmosphere.
As such, there is no one definitive album from Sweet as the ideal mix would be taking tracks from every release. However, the wonderfully titled “This Alone Above All Else in Spite of Everything” from 2010 is, perhaps, the artists most defined work when looking at the lyrical themes and experimental instrumentation that would be expanded on in sub sequential releases.
At only eight tracks, the album is deceitful in the amount of value it holds into understanding the brilliance of Sweet as a lyricist. The first track, “I Bought Myself a Cat O’ Nine Tails” has the slow brooding delivery that dominated the previous albums, giving the vocals and lyrics an intense intimacy. However, the familiarity of the opening in style to the artists previous work is pushed aside for the phenomenal “Decapitation Blues“. This second track paints the picture of a nightmarish existence, wandering a tired existence with no sense of direction–heading towards hell.
Where this track begins to differentiate instrumentally from Sweet’s work up to this point, is in its embracing a cacophony of noise as electric guitars and electronics come crashing together in the middle of the track. This experimentation can be found throughout Boduf’s Songs discography, but the delivery in this particular track emphasizes the divine noise that Sweet is able to summon. To a lesser degree, the track “The Get on Slowly” has the same degree of experimentation but leans heavier on Sweet’s soft-spoken lyrical delivery–both great tracks and essential listens before making final judgement on the project.
As mentioned, the charm in Boduf Songs is likely to be attached to lyrics for the majority. As such, it is unsurprising that the pick of this album comes from one of Sweet’s most tragic and chilling songs, “I am Going Away and I Am Never Coming Back”. An apt track title to close out the album, the song speaks of an immeasurable deep sorrow, years of scars and battles that can’t be overcome. Closing with the repeated lyrics of, “stay with me until the hammer cracks my skull for the last time, I’ll stay with you until the blood has drained completely” speaks of an accepted self-destruction but with the plea to not be left entirely alone.
Spend some time with this one, and let the lyrics really sink in, the story Sweet tells here is deeply tragic yet oddly beautiful.
If not already obvious, I have always been the type of listener who enjoyed overly depressing music, finding more inspiration from dealing with own struggles in the ability of others to turn darkness into art. It has made bands like Swans (depending on album), Have a Nice Life and Crywank (just to name a few) an odd comfort despite the (arguably), self-destructive nature of the lyrics.
These types’ of albums carry a rather personal interpretation: the way we experience sadness is not within the realm of universal understanding. Furthermore, the music can be enjoyed without accessing such emotions-it would be trite of any music to say you need to have experienced certain things to appreciate it for what it is. However, if somber music and tales of personal hardships attracts you to certain albums, Boduf Songs’ “This Alone Above All Else In Spite of Everything” is ripe for deeper exploration.
I’ll close out here by offering up another personal favorite track from Boduf Songs, “Song to Keep Me Still” from the 2013 album “Burnt Up on Re-Entry”.