M. Gira / D. Matz | What We Did | Review | Dave Heaton

pop music as meditation or philosophical exploration

What We Did, a collaboration between Michael Gira of Angels of Light and Dan Matz of Windsor for the Derby, is pop music as meditation or philosophical exploration. The duo regard what they're playing as pop music, and they're right--the album is filled with lovely melodies and harmonies. Yet this is far from what your average person on the street thinks of as "pop." Everything's delivered in a dreamy way that reveals itself slowly. The vocals are part-sung part-chanted, and the heady, complicated lyrics alternate abstract poetics with musings on the mysteries of the world. There's a world of exploratory noises--plentiful percussion, whirs and beeps. And the album's captivating guitar-playing is of the free, open, mysterious sort. Indeed, this all is a mystery, a fascinating musical puzzle. "A link you can't define/a link you'll lose in time," Matz gently intones on the first track, "Pacing the Locks." Loss and forgetting recur as lyrical themes throughout, while the album as a whole exudes a sense of being hard to define. Its essence may be difficult to capture in words, but it will definitely stay with you.--