Here are some reviews for “Manuscript”:
REAL GONE ROCKS 13 May 2019
In 2015, singer songwriter Matt Cahill took a break from his main band Evoletah to experiment with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Muecke and create something that would be so different from everything he’d recorded before. There’s no point in having side projects if they end up being too similar to your regular band, of course, but with The Quiet Room’s ‘All The Frozen Horses’, it’s unlikely that many Evoletah fans expected anything close to the sounds that materialised. Instead of atmospheric, guitar driven rock, The Quiet Room were all about keyboards, space and a cold spookiness.
The album seemed like a true one-off, but a follow-up appeared almost out of nowhere in the spring of 2019. …And that follow-up, ‘Manuscript’ is every bit as good…an on more than a few occasions, it’s even better. Those whom enjoyed the David Sylvian inspirations on the debut album will be in their absolute element, especially with regard to one of the album’s saddest and most atmospheric tracks, ‘Girl In The Garden’. Taking mellow piano chords and delivering them very slowly, the number instantly sets a mood, but once joined by a deep vocal croon it sounds like one of those minimalist tunes that could break in a second. Cahill is in great voice, so obviously relishing the chance to not only carry a melody but to also be the song’s main aural focus, while the soft music at once conjures memories of Rain Tree Crow and the introverted unhappiness of Talk Talk’s ‘Laughing Stock’ swan song. It’s truly wonderful. Combining strident piano chords with some cinematic slide guitar, ‘Plastic Parade’ somehow finds a musical space somewhere between Mark Hollis and Scott Walker, yet at the same time takes a pride in filling space with the same kind of keyboard sounds that made Howard Jones’s early 90s albums so great. It’s a number that seems to be keen to pull at the heart strings, but is in no rush to make that important emotional link. Much like the later works of Hollis once again, it’s ambient feel and dour vocal more than want the listener to invest the time before the reward is given. A brief appearance of an 80s saxophone seems out of place at first, but on subsequent listens, it’s clear it’s there to reinforce a feeling of being a voyeur on a rainy street, under a solitary light.
Setting up a musical landscape with a blanket of synths, ‘In An Unknown Language’ teases with some very 80s sounds. Somewhere between a soundtrack-worthy soundscape and pure drone, the music doesn’t seem as sad at first, but once joined by a tasteful live drum and the kind of moody vocal that would please David Sylvian, various pieces begin to fit together. Cahill’s croon is drenched in sadness, but its a downbeat mood that wants the listener to feel an empathy throughout. By the time the track gains momentum – albeit slowly – and various multi-layered voices fill out a by now strong sound, The Quiet Room’s desire to resurrect all manner of alternative pop from decades past is very appealing. The album’s only real misstep, ‘Twenty Four Blackbirds’ opens with a thin, dated 80s synth and then drops into a pre-programmed samba, but thankfully, it’s little more than an extended interlude, while ‘Apocalypto’ sets things right again with a dark and cinematic backdrop combining Tangerine Dream-esque drones, wheezing saxes and a deep, crooning voice. Not so much a melody as a mood, this reinforces The Quiet Room’s love of all things minimalist, as if dipping back into Sylvian’s solo works for their chief inspiration. At the point you think you know where you’re being taken, that mood becomes even more ominous as a slow jazz groove is set in place with a massive influence from Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score. Just brilliant.
Within the title track you’ll find disjointed sax squonks jostling with Vangelis film score nods for attention, while a mournful voice calls in search of a more obvious melody. Somewhere between avant 80s pop and a soundtrack, it works extremely well when heard in relation to the rest of the album but not so much as a stand-alone track and ‘Our Progress’ dives deep into synthy drones. It’s really not a tune for anyone looking for an obvious hook, but assuming you’re able to allow yourself to be fully engulfed in The Quiet Room’s universe, again, like the later Talk Talk, the listening eventually reaps a cool reward. For those hoping that the soundtrack styled moods will fully collide with an 80s electro-goth sulk, ‘The Greater Good’ should more than fulfil that desire with a steady, clapped beat, some deep and lengthy chords and another moody vocal that’s happy enough to rest uneasily atop everything…regardless of whether it actually fits the semi-tune that’s being played out. It’s almost like hearing Mark Kozolek covering something by Paul Buchanan and The Blue Nile – and while, on paper, this prospect could seem horrible, in practice it’s really rather interesting.
This is really…dark, yet somehow it deserves a proper cult fanbase. Less synthy than their earlier works, though still keeping a feeling of detachment, The Quiet Room appear to have really matured…and when this album really hits the mark, it really does. Proving that second albums don’t have to be difficult, inferior or sound like mere leftovers, the best bits of ‘Manuscript’ could just be the ultimate late night listen.
DAVID NIBLOE (SYLVIANVISTA.COM) June 2019
The best moments on the second album from The Quiet Room showcase both craft and restraint in the arrangement of these brooding compositions. The opening track ‘In an Unknown Language’ stands out for its samples of evocative chanting from some far-off land and an earnest speaker insisting that creativity is the only approach to an uncertain future. Deep synths are set off against expressive acoustic drums, and Matt Cahill’s vocal reminds me of No Man at their peak – especially when he hits the higher register.
Elsewhere, ‘No Wake Zone’ and ‘Girl in the Garden’ are skilfully accompanied with layers of electronic sound. When Cahill explores the depths of his range there is a Scott Walker quality to his voice, albeit this comes with a blurring of delivery and pitch which can be distracting. ‘Apocalypto’ is a case in point, but it develops into an extended instrumental with a memorable guitar motif from Andrew Muecke. Later the guest saxophone of Terry Jones bring a new counterpoint to the vocal on the title track and ‘A Conversation with You.’
I wonder what embracing more variation in tempo could mean for The Quiet Room, but if you are looking for music that is sculpted and dark, then Manuscript is well worth the experience.
(Author of music biographies on Scott Walker and The Walker brothers, Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen and Japan)
“ As intoxicating and smooth as the Kahlua in my Black Russian during a Tahitian sunset ”
Here are some reviews for “All The Frozen Horses”:
TOMOTRAX 20 June 2015
The Quiet Room is an experimental collaboration between Happy Ghosts founding member Andrew Muecke & EVOLETAH singer/songwriter Matt Cahill. This is the debut album from the duo, showing dark and gritty soundscapes it is an intense, vivid, and moving journey!
The opening track Come undone is a dark tune with elements of Beck or the Eels working their way into the sound. There is a thick cold atmosphere that surrounds the sound from the very beginning. This adds to the vivid feeling of darkness throughout the song.
The arena continues in the dark themes with an edgy menacing feel. Noir Des’sir has a harsh industrial feel. There is a lot of silence floating along the song along with distorting droney sounds creating an intense soundscape taking you off to a wasteland like the one depicted in Erasure head. My side of the story is an offbeat jam with the saxophone leading the charge. There is a very jazzy vibe with the different elements going back and forth in a kind of Brownian motion feel. A simpler plan brings In a sense of calmness and comfort as the music drifts along peacefully along with the softly spoken words. Q&A takes another twist with a much more upbeat feel to it while also having a late 90s Cure-esq backdrop. The result is something that is somewhat subdued yet uplifting at the same time. The mood soon returns to the dark side with the creepy sounds of For our own good, sounding like a broken down amusement park late at night.
The final four tracks races through, going for a total of just over 5 minutes. This covers the chilling spoken work title track, the smooth and ambient Mayan Dream, the unnerving and bleak On the corner of loss and gone, and finally the agonising & I looked Everywhere. The short and sweet approach of these tracks create something of a whirlwind with a heap of sounds and textures crammed in and gone before you know it!
This is a great album that drags you through some bleak places with vivid imagery. The music creates an amazing atmosphere that makes you feel like you are in some dark desolated place. At the same time it is delivered with great emotion and beauty ensuring a very moving experience!
REAL GONE ROCKS 8 June 2015
In 2013, Australian rock band, Evoletah unveiled ‘We Ache For The Moon’, a huge surprise of an album that threw away most of the previous alternative rock traits in favour os a moody sound combining rock, prog and touches of jazz. One of the best albums of the year, its lower-key sounds really seemed in tune with the voice of front man Matt Cahill, tapping into the understated qualities of his voice. It was a brilliant musical statement – and the band knew it; so then rather than set about creating a similarly themed successor straight away, Cahill stepped aside and with a huge input from multi-instrumentalist Andrew Muecke, began creating material in a completely different way.
The resultant material was mechanical, synthetic even and eventually found a home in 2015 on “All The Frozen Horses”, a debut release credited to The Quiet Room. Not so much song based, but concerned with atmospheres, its eleven chapters – built from improvisations – appear detached from the warmth of human spirit; the soundscapes like a dark soundtrack to a lost weekend from the 1980s played in the head of a man in solitary confinement. If you are already with Evoletah in any of their incarnations, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll like this. There are only ever fleeting similarities, after all. It’s really difficult pick out standout tracks and even standalone tunes, the thirty two minute duration kind of ambles with no real purpose and yet it’s so hard not to keep listening.
A slow drone marks the start of this musical journey. Barely shifting from its original key. A programmed drum is thin yet hard, and it’s only with the arrival of a vocal things begin to take shape. Cahill’s voice is instantly recognisable, despite a few filters; his first utterances unsure, but soon rising into a high tenor which suits the music but not necessarily the performer. Extra keyboard bring a circular motif, and the vocals drop back down to the more familiar. There’s something nostalgic within this coldness, but it’s never fully realised; it may be parts of Talk Talk, maybe John Foxx….but this tune disappears without ever reaching it’s true potential, giving way to ‘The Arena’, a piece heavily reliant on stabbing keyboards for a bass riff. The Quiet Room begin to get louder, though the juxtaposition between more high tenor vocals and droned synths is a touch unsettling. A spoken monologue gives a sense of the highly stylised material, arty but not pretentious. ‘Noir De’sire’ combines a quasi-trip hop loop with multi-tracked voices – again the high pitch, but a strong focus on heavily treated mumbled, almost spoken material – to reasonable effect. The closing bars bring muted brass and jazz leanings, very much like an interlude from Miles Davis’s ‘Tutu’ or Branford Marsalis’s work with Sting. It brings a couple of minutes worth of superb soundtrack worthy material, but at this point, The Quiet Room are in danger of losing pretty much everyone who came looking for actual songs or a hook.
If your patience is wearing thin, don’t give up, since there comes a most epic segment, “My Side Of The Story’, a dark jazzy, dubby groove working around a mumbling, almost spoken vocal. Cahill’s voice acts as a pivotal element in this musical sound collage; the cymbal-less drumming adding depth throughout, keyboard drones and muted brass bringing sounds not unlike the more minimalist arts of Steve Hogarth’s ‘Ice Cream Genius’ and that album’s keyboard soundscapes laid down by Richard Barbieri. In terms of tune, the whole album hangs upon this, but again, everything is more concerned with mood over hooks….of which there aren’t any. ‘A Simpler Plan’s’ droning keys and rattling tambourine bring a great exercise in minimalism, forcing Cahill to carry a tune with a breathy vocal. The understated moodiness sounds like a throwback to the more ambient elements of the Japan catalogue – a great sound and influence- before ‘Q & A’ sweeps through with an almost funky arrangement with high bass tones borrowing from Simple Mind’s Derek Forbes, while the mix of pop sheen and detached emotion again, is likely to invite more comparisons with Japan. A repeated line “I’m sitting in the back room with my yesterday’s” is the closest to a chorus you’ll find, but Cahill’s internal torment ensures it sounds more like a personal mantra from a man best left with his thoughts.
The second half of this album is far less focussed, with its five pieces relatively short and sparsely arranged. ‘For Our Own Good’ is incredibly dark – again, almost David Sylvian-like – with simplistic keyboard washes punctuated by human hand claps. Cahill mumbles through each line, more of a story-teller than singer, before everything stops short. The title cut, a spoken interlude taken from ‘Kaputt’ by Curzio Malaparte, really gives the impression that what began as improvisation now forms a narrative, but beyond the feeling of loneliness and cold back rooms, like a character resisting therapy, it never really lets the listener in. ‘Mayan Dream’ drops back into minimalist electronica, bringing ambient sounds until a trumpet signifies we’re now ‘On The Corner Of Loss And Gone’, our protagonist begging for a coffee, becoming ever more removed from comfort, before the album’s coda asks plainly and painfully “Where were you …nowhere to be found…when I needed you?”.
Too distracting for a truly ambient experience, and yet too bleak for those who like synth based pop – especially that from the 80s palate which this duo borrow somewhat liberally – “All The Frozen Horses” is a disquieting experience. It beckons you into a dark place but eventually takes you somewhere so desolate that once you’ve reached the end, you’ll wonder what’s beyond The Quiet Room. Are you ready to go there?
ASPIRE Magazine April/May 2015
“MUST” Section – Listen (and Aspire App Watch – video to ‘Come Undone’)
Local new-wave electro duo The Quiet Room’s debut album All the Frozen Horses has been rocking our little socks off.
The pair create lush, cinematic sounds with dark synths and atmospehric vocals.
As they say, “its a private pleasure palace for the arty bastard inside you. Yep, we’re hooked.
Reviewed by Tom Gaffney 9 April 2015
Hidden gem The Quiet Room may very well be our answer to the trip-hop hole that Adelaide unfortunately has. Made up of vocalist Matt Cahill and producer Andrew Muecke, the duo utilise elements of dark pop, new wave, and their own little avant-garde twist, to make some chilling tunes.
They’ve recently released their debut album All The Frozen Horses through Paper Rock Scissors records. From start to finish, the release contains lush analogue synths alongside vocals that are unique, if not a little creepy.
The star of the whole album is no doubt its ability to give you goosebumps, especially when you’re listening late at night in the dark. This is very evident in track “Mayan Dream”, where children’s laughter seemingly pops out of nowhere, accompanied by cold, expansive vocals.
There’s also the neat, trivial instrumentation that may go unnoticed through passive listening. Instruments such as the trumpet in “On the Corner of Loss & Gone”, and “Noir De’sir” only add to the unique, cold feeling that The Quiet Room are certainly attempting to pass on to listeners.
The production is good, and the composition is unique throughout – it’s all you need from an avant-garde band. There’s enough variation for you to listen through a couple of times, whether it’s an accompaniment for a late-night drive in the car, or as a little bit of ambience while you’re telling a ghost story.
In some aspects, though, the vocals feel a little tacked on to the underlying instrumentation – it would have been nice to hear them a little more gelled together. The Quiet Room have still put out a quality debut record worth checking out.
All the Frozen Horses
(Rick Jamm @ Jamsphere, 16 March 2015)
‘The Quiet Room’ is an experimental collaboration between ‘Happy Ghosts’ founding member Andrew Muecke and EVOLETAH singer/songwriter Matt Cahill. ‘All the Frozen Horses’ is the resulting debut album of both Matt and Andrew’s collective musical histories colliding. The Quiet Room is a “new” band, in the sense that this is their debut album, but these guys have been around for quite a long time.
Albums come and go like friends who move in next door and are gone within a year’s time, leaving you a multiple-digit number that hibernates in your cell phone. The way fads age like raw meat in a greenhouse: A good sign that you’ve found the genuine article is when each successive song sounds better than the last, and once the disc is done, you do it all over again.
The Quiet Room is appealing in the same way as Coldplay were on their debut album, “Parachutes”; soothing, melodic, gigantic. Once in a while all this music world needs is a band to simply cut it up. Matt and Andrew just let it out. The sparse instrumentation, the melodies, the dark moods, and the vocals will blow your mind.
A distinctly modern mélange of analog synth music, I’d best describe The Quiet Room as Avant-garde Electro-indie. If you’re a child of the 80s who grew up with OMD, Japan and Depeche Mode you’ll immediately grasp the basics of ‘All the Frozen Horses’. With this 11-track album, The Quiet Room is the outstanding contender as the smartest electro-indie band of the year with an album that’s so emotional, so beautiful, and so well-produced that it will put many others to shame.
‘All the Frozen Horses’ will save synth and electro-based music from itself, bringing a much needed sense of vision to a brand of music which, as of late, has aspired to no greater purpose than that of moving bodies and disengaging minds. The album is the optimistic answer to all the question marks left in the wake of the last thirty years, with a smattering of everything from the revolutionary 80’s new wave movement to the more recent experimental ambience of Brian Eno. At a time during electro music’s history when some may already be tempted to assume we’ve seen it all , now come the likes of The Quiet Room, which, by the way, should not be considered an “electronic” duo. To the contrary, Andrew Muecke and Matt Cahill have simply used the medium as a tool in their grander endeavor: to make good music!
Those familiar with the other projects the core members are a part of might not know what to expect from this album, either. It starts off with a slow-building almost narrative track, titled “Come Undone” featuring beautifully placed vocals, layered with falsettos that might elicit tears from the more delicate listener. A nod to the exquisitely intimate George Michael-styled vocals from his “Older” album or just about anything by Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode is not out of place here.
In fact, for me, the entire ‘All the Frozen Horses’ album has the same tender, melancholy and dark overall style that came forth from “Older”, to my mind the most emotionally intense George Michael album ever. In all, those willing to lift their chins and revel in some honest and emotional songwriting will find an album worthy of sitting on their top shelf. You get the complete package: mood, musicality and melody.
The best tracks? ‘Come Undone’, ‘The Arena’, ‘Q &A’, ‘Mayan Dream’ and ‘& I Looked Everywhere’. ‘All the Frozen Horses’ is nothing short of a musical tour de force. Really, it’s that good. So good, it’s almost criminal. Take the lyrical honesty of The Cure and marry it with Martin Gore’s keyboard sensibilities. The result is an absolutely smashing album that harkens back to the days of dark, new wave mixed with 90’s experimental flair and a minimalistic modern bent.
Overall, the combined efforts of Andrew Muecke and Matt Cahill display an artistic quality that is not found often. ‘All the Frozen Horses’ both satisfies a musical hunger and leaves you wanting more. Proving that innovation is not dead in the music business, The Quiet Room is a fantastic breath of fresh air; dreamy, a little depressed, yet uplifting and sweet.
All the Frozen Horses
(Jer at Sleeping Bag Studios, Canada – 27 February 2015)
Where do I start this? Ha! Even better…WHEN do I officially start this? I feel like I’ve been listening to this new album from Australia’s new alt/rock/electro experiment The Quiet Room for nearly a month and not really known how to express how I feel about it.
Let that be a lesson to you all – if you make complex, unique, creative compositions that challenge my eardrums your reviews WILL be delayed. Serves you damn-right for being all that kinda smart & innovative with your music!
And that’s the case today with the latest album from The Quiet Room, All The Frozen Horses. I kind of pity the reviewer out there that gives this a single spin and thinks they’d just magically ‘get it;’ they wouldn’t – to be truthful, on a first listen you might not ‘get it’ at all. The true magic of The Quiet Room and this beautifully artistic new experimental album is in the repeat listens and really stepping into their world. I found by the second spin through All The Frozen Horses I already liked it more. The third time…more still; until it eventually continued to revolve around in my playlist as I became hopelessly addicted. Even now, after multiple-multiple listens, the opening track “Come Undone” still gives me a complete chill with its haunting atmosphere and echoing vocals.
What you might not already know is that this unique take on music OVERALL (that’s right – Read: New) is coming to us from the pieces of another band that is still together that we know and love; Matt Cahill of Australia’s Evoletah is one half of The Quiet Room making all that interesting noise. It sounds as if to me, listening to a track like “The Arena,” that he’s vocalizing at times with fellow band-mate Andrew Muecke who also founded the band Happy Ghosts. Whether or not it’s both of them, or just one going way-high and way-low with the vocals, this combination works extremely well in a very hypnotic way. Much of this album…I feel could be described in that same fashion.
Listen to the ideas of “Noir De’sir;” this isn’t music for the beginning ear. Truly…this album is one of those ‘if aliens came down and just got a sample of Earth, and got their talons, hands or whatever on THIS…what would THEY think?’ kinda albums. C’mon…you have those too – So add this one! The texture, space and substance on “Noir De’sir” is completely awesome; by the middle of this track it becomes as wide-open as the solar-system and through excellent saxophone tones, low-synth rumble and well-placed, ominous keys.
You’ll either like the meandering saxophone & drum combination of the opening to “My Side Of The Story” or you won’t. It’s instrumental for nearly a minute-and-a-half before busting into an avant-garde poetry-esque vocal set comes along for the ride. I love the tribal-tones & rhythms of the drums, which are really actually ripping it up back there in this super-intense but slow track full of real atmosphere and that dark, back-alley of the jazz-club feeling.
Immediately heading toward the light and having a little fun with that good ol’ auto-tuner on “A Simpler Plan,” this song largely relies on the subtle-melodies of the vocals. Like I mentioned earlier…there’s a truly hypnotic aspect of what The Quiet Room are doing here on All The Frozen Horses…you really can get lost in these sounds. For some reason…there are elements of their music that remind of the Smashing Pumpkins…but in their ‘B-Side’ moments, which were always their ‘A-Sides’ to me personally… I mean c’mon…you can argue ‘Mellon Collie’ all you want but it was Pisces Iscariot that made that band great to me. I digress…but there’s a similar light & airy, free-feeling to the music in tracks like “Q&A” despite a heavier thought-process that remains pretty much a constant on All The Frozen Horses. A track like “Q&A” might be a little ‘loose’ in feel for some, but just like each and every song here on this album, there are some extraordinary moments that will pull you right back in the minute you try to resist them. Listen to “Q&A” come together around two-and-a-half minutes in…you’ll get a good grip on what I mean…that’s a fantastic moment right there; an intensity they carry right to the end of this tune.
As the second-half of the album continues on, The Quiet Room find themselves in an exponentially-experimental couple tracks with “For Our Own Good” and the title-track “All The Frozen Horses.” Arguably these might be the toughest tracks back-to-back to get into on a first listen, but again, you’ll find reward in the repeating. The sparse rambling-verse with subtle music accompaniment of “For Our Own Good” is almost certainly closer to an actual piece of physical artwork than it is to a radio-hit. When followed by the title-track, a narrative that tells the story behind “All The Frozen Horses” against some more subtle sounds as the album drifts towards its final three.
Nearly half-Bowie and half-Pink Floyd, The Quiet Room roam into space-like territory on “Mayan Dream.” The atmosphere spreads out far and wide on this track, the choices of samples and sounds within the last minute are intensely epic in their moments and brought in completely well through the mix itself.
“On The Corner Of Loss & Gone” not only has one of the best titles I’ve read this year, but it also really made me appreciate this combination of music and poetry even more. Where we’re often expecting typical vocals or more singing all together – The Quiet Room have kept it consistently interesting by taking many of their ideas in the opposite direction of which you’d think. The coolest thing about it all is that it’s not sounding pretentious, not sounding forced, and really has unique qualities, textures and instincts that lead to a unique experience time and again when listening. This song and the last, “& I Looked Everywhere” float by quickly & beautifully in their now-signature style at the end of this album totalling just over two-and-a-half minutes combined.
I remember when I personally first started to write songs in a more artistic style. You can literally go in any direction of course with the sound, but at the end of the day there are really only two ways it can go for the most part. One has you creating brilliant bursts of art & music combined that never last too long, the other is quite often dogged by layers of pretentiousness and staggering boredom when creating a meandering piece that ‘really speaks to someone.’ That someone most-often being a distant aunt or a cousin regarded as a loon by the rest of the family and now resides way up the hills somewhere in a cave painting away their final years…
I think that The Quiet Room have gone about this entire thing in a very smart way by putting out these short tunes that represent the full idea without overkill. All The Frozen Horses is an altogether interesting experiment with brave, bold & atmospheric music, bizarre, emotional and impassioned poetic vocals and a way of tying it all together in ways that will capture your imagination through their stunning attention to detail and commitment to a brand-new sound.