Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Sieben - As They Should Sound (2009)

artist: Sieben
release: As They Should Sound
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Red­room
dur­a­tion: 41:38

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com.

As They Should Sound is, first of all, not the new Sieben album. Rather, it is a cross between an album of re-record­ings, and a ret­ro­spect­ive com­pil­a­tion, released in a fine digi­pak with full lyr­ics and nice pho­to­graphy. As the title sug­gests, it appears Matt went through his œuvre to pick songs he would like to record anew, as they should sound. In prac­tice, this mostly means a stripped-down sound, no guest artists, no other instru­ments, just “one violin, one loop pedal, one voice”, as Matt calls it him­self. Incid­ent­ally, this brings many of the tracks quite close to what they would sound like played live, so there’s a bit of that aspect thrown in as well.

The release con­tains tracks selec­ted from all albums but the very first (For­bid the Sun’s Escape) and the very latest (Desire Rites), but that still leaves loads of mater­ial to work with. Only the first and title track has not appeared on any pre­vi­ous release. Per­haps not very sur­pris­ingly, the old­est tracks (“Peterson’s Seat”, “North­ern Lights” and “Sac­ri­fice Con­tent”) have changed the most, and offer an inter­est­ing new take on these com­pos­i­tions. For the other tracks, it’s a bit touch and go to see whether the new sound is an improve­ment. In gen­eral I find that the tracks that I thought were the strongest tracks on their ori­ginal release also stand out on this release. “Vir­gin in the Green” and “Love’s Prom­ise” were both favour­ites of mine on the Sex & Wild­flowers album, and though these new ver­sions are quite dif­fer­ent (though just as sen­sual) they’re still two high­lights on this album, show­cas­ing Mat­t’s undeni­able tal­ent as a song­writer, but also as a rhythmic genius. The tracks from Ogham Inside the Night and High Broad Field, how­ever, don’t seem to sparkle com­pletely. Per­haps it’s because those albums both felt like strong con­cep­tual wholes to me, and there­fore the tracks sound slightly out of con­text here.

All of the Sieben albums have a cer­tain level of qual­ity, and As They Should Sound is no excep­tion. How­ever, like Desire Rites before it, it’s not as bril­liant as High Broad Field or Ogham Inside the Night either. I believe these songs in gen­eral need a firm con­cep­tual anchor­ing to truly make them shine. In that respect, this release can’t escape the lim­it­a­tions that many com­pil­a­tions suf­fer from. Its main value is there­fore as a nice col­lec­tion of altern­at­ive ver­sions for the true Sieben col­lector, or as a catchy intro­duc­tion for those new to the pro­ject. Oth­ers would do bet­ter to look to the afore­men­tioned older albums, or bet­ter yet, check out Mat­t’s excel­lent col­lab­or­a­tion with his father Keith on The Mat­ter of Bri­tain.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. As They Should Sound (4:04)
2. The Sun (3:15)
3. Crim­son Clover (3:26)
4. Vir­gin in the Green (3:55)
5. The Spirit (3:13)
6. Love’s Prom­ise (3:55)
7. Love Must Wax Cold (3:23)
8. North­ern Lights (2:24)
9. Luci­fer (3:10)
10. Peterson’s Seat (2:55)
11. The Blade (3:28)
12. Sac­ri­fice Con­tent (4:30)