Short and Sweet NYC

Matthew Friedberger: Old Regimes

Matthew Friedberger
Old Regimes
(Thrill Jockey)

In his day job, Matthew Friedberger is quite productive as one half of the brother-sister duo The Fiery Furnaces. However, he’s outdoing previous ambition by delivering a new record every two months for one year. Each offering revolves around a different instrument, and Old Regimes is the most dynamic of the Solos series so far, featuring only vocals and a vintage harp.

The instrument is more flexible than one might imagine. At times it has its classic, beautiful sound, such as on “Attis,” but Friedberger is also able to coax from the harp darker sounds and a steady beat on “The Hidden Location of My Purple Pen.” “Quality Evictions Since 1986” makes ample use of pedals to make it seem like a synth is being used, while “Rebeccaism” combines a danceable beat with nearly atonal strumming. “She’s Relieved, Actually” mashes up delicate tones and deep, chilling vocals. “Ticket-A-Dance” could actually get people on the dance floor, as the name implies, and “The Xlebnikov Branding And Wayfinding Agency” tells a fascinating story of a Russian girl in Brooklyn.

Subscriptions are sold out for Friedberger’s Solos series, but he’s so capable of crafting skillful, experimental concept albums that it’s definitely worth the effort to get the albums individually. There’s much promise ahead for the next three records, so get on board before the year’s out.

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