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Matt Raudsepp: The Midnight Candle

Posted by Christine / February 1, 2010

20100201-matt.jpg A week or so ago, I cut my way through the snow up St. Laurent to meet Matt Raudsepp. It was within the cozy, book-laden walls of Cagibi, leaning in front of a warm bowl of vegetable soup, that I spoke with him about the upcoming release of his album, The Midnight Candle.

The Midnight Candle, while not a concept album per say, has a definite sense of musical cohesion. The title of the album overall refers to Raudsepp's late-night musing over and creation of his music, but also, is a comment on the nature of dreaming:

"The Midnight Candle comes from the idea that dreaming is active," said Raudsepp. "Dreaming is burning the midnight candle."

The album is bookended by two songs that connote gentle, sleepy reveries: "Cumulus Humilis" and "Aftervoices." The former is a layered lullaby with climbing, airy vocals. Raudsepp's hushed lyrics fall in symmetry with the drifting, floating vibe of the instrumentals, "I'm tired of being bound to the ground." This introductory song fades out like wakefulness after a long day of work, settling the listener into a serene state of openness, a willingness to fall into the dreamy stories Raudsepp weaves.

Though Raudsepp takes special care when writing lyrics, he ultimately writes the instrumental tunes first:

"I start with the music, it's the most natural thing," he said. "Music touches you in a way you can't describe. People can move to it, cry to it, or even fall asleep to it."

The fourth song, "Heartloop," is a love story about two individuals at a show, presumably on a date. The mood of the album is lifted up during this song, as Raudsepp's vocals quicken to an upbeat, energetic pace. The lyrics mention "a hotel bar on Pine Avenue," perhaps a nod to the all too familiar Plateau area street. On a side note, I absolutely adore when local artists mention cherished Montreal streets or sites in their work. It's one of the reasons (oh, apart from the sheer, literary brilliance) why I love Leonard Cohen's Favorite Game so much. When my eyes wander to and settle on the word "St. Urbain," I secretly declare, "I live there, and so, I somehow have special, privileged insight into what is being described here." It's a rather silly, narcissistic thing, really.

The sixth song, "To The Places That We've Never Been" is heavily synth-based and is vaguely reminiscent of The Postal Service. Raudsepp's vocals describe a deep wanderlust shared with another. He declares, "Let's close our eyes to see," and so the pair first imagine the places they'd like to go to, an activity that binds them together romantically, in a collective fantasy. In a way, the "hidden destinations" and "the places without any reservation" that the couple envision together become more satisfying than actual travel. The image of these dreamland adventurers, discovering and exploring while their eyes are shut, coincides well with the album's overall theme of the midnight candle. It's the kind of song that makes you feel like anything is possible, leaving the listener in a delightfully optimistic mood.

The thirteenth song, "Look For Me," features soft, stretching vocals and gentle guitar strumming. The effect is a sort of sad hopefulness, a ballad about love's contingency on time, "Look for me under your shoe, I'm under there waiting for you." The narrator is waiting for their lover to "do what (they) have to." Further into the song, the lyrics, "Gambling that this will come true," are uttered, repeating the last few words in a softly howled wish, "Come true..."

When I listened to this song for the first time, I was reminded of my favorite lines from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, "If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, but I shall be good health to you nevertheless, and filter and fiber your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you." Though Song of Myself is, arguably, about American democracy, I always related these lines to love. Anyways, it would seem that the willingness to wait for someone, is a widespread, classic sentiment, begging the question: is love worth it all?

The fifteenth and final song, "Aftervoices," serves as an epilogue of sorts. The layered synth creates the sound of a strange dream wind, haunting the listener with tumbling, echoing sequences. Between whispered vocals, Raudsepp takes in an audibly deep breath, an oddly heartbreaking reminder of our own mortality. The tune ends with subtle, Lynchesque spiraling-down buzzing sounds, which, having recently come down from a Twin Peaks binge, I rather enjoyed.

The Midnight Candle, mastered by Harris Newman (he's worked with Sunset Rubdown and Arcade Fire, among others) at Grey Market Mastering, has been five years in the making:

"I waited till I had songs I was happy with," Raudsepp said. "If I can get strangers slightly into it, and have them get something out of it, that would mean the world to me. It's a humble goal, but that's all I want from it."

The album's planned release is mid to late February, furthermore, it will be available on iTunes.

More information can be found on Matt Raudsepp's Myspace page:

Photograph from Matt Raudsepp's Myspace page.



Anja / February 4, 2015 at 04:33 am
Hi Graham,First off, very much like your website, I haven't lived at home for a few years and glad to get a revatilely sober Irish perspective on these types of issues. Really like the €5000 roundhouse, you really made it go a long way my sister near Dublin spent more than that on a pine shed and I know she'd trade you anyday! If only I could figure how to build a 50ft catamaran for similar money I'd be well set Your account of Swithin Goodbody's talk at the conference makes it sound a bit dated. I'm sure you will have heard of the public health statistician, Hans Rosling, and maybe watched a few of his talks on TED or Youtube; if not I would really recommend them. They are both informative and exciting, if a little simplistic (and perhaps too optimistic). The central message is very good though from his statistical research it appears that there is that there is no Africa' or Asia' anymore, in the sense that we cannot make accurate generalisations about the economic and social conditions in these vast landmasses. GDP per capita, life expectancy and child mortality all vary wildly among African nations.Finally, bravo on your contribution to the debunking of biodynamics and the outing of Steiner as unpleasant nutcase. It's how I found your site. A classmate at college muttered something about going to a Steiner school and being made to do everything in crayon for years and it got my curiosity going now I know why he seems so troubled all the time. What a load of shams!I'm broadly interested in all the different ideas and approaches up for discussion on how we will transition to post-oil living, particularly where food, transport and the demographics of morbidity are concerned. There is so much of value in organic and permaculture design systems. Unfortunately both wear the taint of the large quantities of woo peddled by new age practitioners and fringe thought who all too often seem to be hosting the party. The Organic, Sustainable & Eco concepts are also falling victim to their own success in the hands of big business, greedily twisted away from the intent of the people who devised and publicised the ideas behind them.Not to worry though, for now we are still alive, there are birds in the trees and the sun will come up in the morning!Take it easy,John
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