Matt Elliott, the one-man carpool behind the Third Eye Foundation, has, after eight years, said yes to the principle of identity. A righteous move. His latest project, The Mess We Made, is absorbingly broad in feeling and a gentle tazer zap to any naysayer who thinks electronica ain’t got no soul.
One listen and you will agree that our poor Matty is overflowing with it. Bristol may not be the sunniest spot on the planet, but those foggy moors must have fueled his passion for truth in sound. And the truth is the truth.
The Mess We Made, like its intriguing cover art, is a study in solitude. Arrangements are complex and orchestration never blends entirely for the sake of being easy to listen to; Elliott maintains a range of cacophonous identities that simply tolerate each other. The opening track, “Let Us Break,” is in this regard as haunting as it is entirely captivating. Warped, exaggerated vocals share track space but never yield scope or priority to strings, piano, accordion — elements stand out by virtue of their original form and within the same dimension create layers of distinct separation.
On many levels, The Mess We Made is quite soothing. It works because it appeals to our need to commune, to make human connections, and how often we intentionally fail to do so. It allows for the release of emotions that have lost significance in a value system that does not recognize them. Sadness. Sorrow. “Also Ran” drips with regret and projects forward an echo of the past with the lyrics: “I will haunt you in your sleep/ all the ghosts that you see/ are a reflection of me.”
On a plane where a manufactured feeling provides more relief and expression for honest ones, Elliott challenges listeners to identify with a deeper, more essential nature — that of our shared human experience with grief. Look at the cover art: a silhouette of a face silently observes items in a still life — a lock of hair, assorted teeth in plaster molds, a photograph: all things that would normally have strong feeling attached to them. For Elliott, they are estranged objects to examine, and a way to communicate human isolation. In this way, Elliott has shown us how to feel, and in doing so, he has revealed himself.