Roger Matura,
Time Traveller
(Ozella, 2005)

Roger Matura's Time Traveller is a brave attempt to produce a narrative album without words. Matura is a talented performer with a strong command of several instruments, from pianos to percussion, guitars of several stripes and just about every instrument he could need to add texture to his compositions. An eclectic set of other performers and instruments, from Klaus Hoffman-Hook and his mellotron to Armin Dahm and his delightful mini moog, assist Matura in giving Time Traveller a unique sound that allows for wide ranging experimentation. Relying on his own multi-instrumental performance and the assistance of several talented musicians, he sets out to tell of emotional encounters, the power of the past and the joys of the world behind a person's own eyes.

Together, they have created a beautiful album. While carrying an overall peaceful feeling, the album flirts with drama at every turn, bringing in a note of dance in "Poor Gigolo Me" or a touch of cool club sound in "Gaslight Alley." "Iraqueiraque" pushes itself forward in a flourish of rhythm and guitar, in a dramatic departure from all surrounding tracks that serves to define the larger album at the same time it isolates itself. "Rosalita" is a joy, a playful twisting tune with enough layers and contradictions to be a believable snapshot of a woman's personality. Serious fans of instrumental music will enjoy listening for the unusual flourishes: the voice of the mellotron in "Poor Gigolo Me," the touch of the mini moog in "Dead Moon," the flourish of harmonium in "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." It's a wonderful display of what the right instruments can do in the right hands, a chance for strange performances to become familiar.

But it doesn't create the wordless narrative Matura hoped for. The press release accompanying the album suggests tales for many of the tracks, but they don't force themselves on the listeners' mind. Time Traveler is just too open, too accommodating, to drive the mind towards a particular story in the way storytelling music must. Lovely as it is, Time Traveler just can't achieve its stated goal.

Instead, it achieves something far more rare and more valuable. The theatrical moments, the unified peaceful whole of the album, create a bright still space in the mind, a space that begs to be filled with the story not quite provided. The gentle pressure of the music pushes away distractions with clear notes and summons up focus with the lure of its own forward progression. Like a fresh canvas or the earliest morning sunlight, Time Traveller invites listeners to create their own story, and promises that it will be the richest of all.

by Sarah Meador
29 October 2005

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