Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Sieben - Star Wood Brick Firmament (2010)

artist: Sieben
release: Star Wood Brick Firm­a­ment
format: CD
year of release: 2010
label: Red­room
dur­a­tion: 49:42

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

It was a mere mat­ter of time before the rising star of Sieben’s oeuvre would be crowned by a new full-length album. Last year’s As They Should Sound saw Matt Howden look­ing to his back cata­logue and restyl­ing a selec­tion of songs in a more cur­rent mode. Basic­ally, Star Wood Brick Firm­a­ment works in that same mode: Howden unac­com­pan­ied and without frills, but with a series of brand new tracks.

Opener “Min­ack Theatre” and the beau­ti­ful “Build You a Song” show Howden at his most subtle: soft, flow­ing violin sound­scapes with min­imal looped per­cus­sion (also violin), and his still extremely pleas­ant and nat­ural voice. But there is an excel­lent bal­ance on this album as well, with tracks like “Long Live the Post Romantic Empire” and “We Wait for Them” emphas­ising once more how adept Howden is at con­struct­ing catchy up-tempo rhythms and song lines.

In this respect, Star Wood Brick Firm­a­ment is an excel­lent album, the Sieben sound more refined than ever. It is a sight bet­ter than the merely decent Desire Rites. Nev­er­the­less, the strictly solo approach of the last two releases starts to rub against its bor­ders here and there, and I can’t help but want to hear some guest artist or other in some spots, as on albums like Ogham Inside the Night and High Broad Field and some recent live appear­ances. The two remixes tacked on to this album, cour­tesy of Dark-hearted, are nice, but do little to alle­vi­ate this, and it would­n’t have been a dis­aster either to’ve just ended the album with the incred­ibly catchy “Can’t Stop This”, maybe the closest Howden has ever got to a club hit.

Not­with­stand­ing small gripes, this is yet another solid album by Sieben, argu­ably the best since High Broad Field. As such, it’s an essen­tial buy for any fan of Howden’s work, and well worth check­ing out for every­one else as well, espe­cially if you’ve got a soft spot for exper­i­mental folk with catchy song­writ­ing.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Min­ack Theatre (3:58)
2. Sweet Enough? (4:03)
3. Build You A Song (4:43)
4. Long Live The Post Romantic Empire (5:13)
5. We Wait For Them (3:43)
6. Don­ald (4:08)
7. Crowhurst (4:26)
8. Float­ing (3:52)
9. Jack In The Pul­pit (3:25)
10. Can’t Stop This (4:07)
11. There (Dark-hearted) (3:53)
12. We Wait (Dark-hearted) (4:11)