LA-based experimental artist Jared Matt Greenberg (Whale Fall, Charles Atlas, The Rosemarys) just released his debut album “Shadow Falls” (released 5/21/21), filled with ambient-adjacent instrumental music that conjures a sensory experience of its own. Today, we’re giving you his new music video for the song “True Sight”, made by Aaron Farinelli at [VHS Hits], Whale Fall’s drummer, who also did a couple of Whale Fall videos.
The stunning debut record from THE PAPER SEA, Shadow Falls features Greenberg on various keyboards as well as cornet, guitars, and percussion. Keyboardist and founding member of early ’90s San Francisco shoegaze band The Rosemarys and core member of the instrumental group Charles Atlas, Greenberg has also played with John Vanderslice, Primitive Painters, Dart, Sutro, An American Starlet, Carta, and others. Since 2011, Greenberg has earned critical acclaim (A Closer Listen, Echoes & Dust, Spectrum Culture) for his cornet and keyboard work as part of Los Angeles post-rock quintet Whale Fall. After experiences touring the world and placing music in film and television, Greenberg comes home with THE PAPER SEA: intimate, personally crafted instrumental music.
𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑑𝑜𝑤 𝐹𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑠 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑎 𝑣𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑙𝑢𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑤𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑐, 𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑗𝑎𝑧𝑧, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑑ℎ𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠, 𝑤𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑓𝑢𝑙 𝑚𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠, 𝑚𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑖𝑐 𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒.
FOR FANS OF: Harold Budd, George Winston, Ólafur Arnalds, Eluvium, Yann Tiersen, Dustin O’Halloran, Haushka, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Whale Fall
Heavily influenced in his formative years by such artists as This Mortal Coil and other 4AD groups, Brian Eno, Talk Talk, The Cure, and Radiohead, as well as by dream pop bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Greenberg brings a touch of shoegaze to THE PAPER SEA. But listeners will also detect Greenberg’s other inspirations, including George Winston, Erik Satie, Harold Budd, Angelo Badalamenti, Dustin O’Halloran, Jon Brion, and Kind of Blue–era Miles Davis. Anchored by piano, Shadow Falls features a mixture of acoustic instruments and both analog and digital electronic tones, as well as beats and percussive elements. The sonic landscape includes strings, cornet, Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos, Moog synthesizers, Mellotron, Hammond and Farfisa organs, accordion, vibraphone, bells, pedal steel, acoustic and electronic percussion, electric and acoustic guitars and basses, and occasional wordless vocals. The result is an album that ranges through ambient, neo-classical, and cinematic, hitting notes of downtempo, indie pop, and jazz along the way.
The album has been long in the planning, says Greenberg. “I’ve been writing and accumulating ideas and progressions, almost always piano-based, over the years on iPhones, MiniDiscs, and laptops.” But after decades of constant activity with different collaborative musical projects, it was the pandemic—and the accompanying pause in group-based music-making—that finally freed up the time and space to complete a solo album. Able to record alone for the first time, Greenberg found it freeing to have complete creative control. “Whatever I did,” he says, “could be entirely in service of the piece.”
The recording process evolved organically. Most of the tracks started as solo piano pieces. “It’s important to me that they hold their own on just the piano,” explains Greenberg. “But this was also an opportunity to see what they might grow into if I remained open to all the possibilities.”
As originally composed over a decade ago, “True Sight,” the first single (out 7 May 2021), was just piano chords and a basic melody. As he re-recorded the piece for this album, Greenberg began to hear the percussion in his head, which “quickly blossomed into the entire percussion track.” He adds, “I seem to be irresistibly drawn to a ‘building-up’ approach to arranging.” The finished piece highlights a piano sample that has been processed and paired with glockenspiel, African percussion instruments, analog synth, and wordless vocals. As he often does, Greenberg added the title only after the track was nearly complete. While watching Stranger Things, Greenberg ran across the term “true sight,” a fictitious spell that gives a person “the ability to see the world as it actually is.” The concept caught Greenberg’s imagination “in the broader sense of heightened and hyper-accurate perception.”
THE PAPER SEA draws its name from the juxtaposition of two disparate elements.
“I wanted to convey something that was both very familiar, quotidian, and ubiquitous, even mundane (paper), and at the same time grand, elemental, and aspirational (the sea).” Greenberg explains that this sense of duality was present throughout the compositional process: “Small/huge, near/far, delicate/powerful, human-made/natural, static/flowing, in here/out there.” The music itself often features delicate, paper-like sounds such as high-pitched percussion overlaid with fluid washes of synth pads or strings. In searching for artwork that connected with both the album’s sense of the flow and the use of paper, Greenberg discovered the work of UK woodblock printmaker Rod Nelson (rodnelson.studio). The fit was such that, following discussions with Nelson, Greenberg chose to name the album Shadow Falls after the print that graces the album cover. Adds Greenberg, “I like the idea of visual and musical works being in dialogue with each other.”
Perhaps because of the timing with world events, perhaps because of the loss of his parents a few years ago, many of the tracks evoke a “sense of longing and yearning: the Brazilian concept of saudade.” The thread of romantic love runs through Shadow Falls as well: the album is dedicated to Greenberg’s wife and soulmate Leticia Meza (The Bedshredders, B is for Baroness, Bela, Fledgeling), who contributes shaker and Brazilian percussion to two of the tracks, and provided integral creative feedback. Some of the pieces, such as “Fern Dell Fireworks” start out more melancholy and become more joyful as the music develops. By turns playful and poignant, Shadow Falls is the perfect soundtrack for this challenging year.