I was sat working away at my desk one evening recently, when I had a message come through from TeMatera Smith, asking if I would be interested in hearing a brand-new album which he had literally just finished mixing. Of course, I said yes, and he provided me with a Soundcloud link to this release, which immediately blew me away. My mind was further damaged when it transpired that this is a solo release from TeMatera himself. These days TeMatera is most widely known as a producer for the likes of Troy Kingi, as well as running AAA Records and Red Room Studios. However, it needs to be remembered that he started his career as a guitarist, was a member of the Sony-signed Sundog in the UK, while in NZ he was guitarist and singer in The Symphony of Screams who as well as releasing some wonderful albums were also the highest ranked local support act at Rock2Wgtn 2008 where they played on both nights, supporting the likes of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see TSOS play a few times, and always enjoyed the sheer power and might of their grunge metal approach, so if someone had told me that TeMatera had recorded a new album I would have expected something similar. In fairness, TeMatera has been involved with many NZ artists over the years, mentoring, guiding, recording, producing etc, and very few of these are actually metallic in any way whatsoever, but I did not expect something which is ambient, New Age, and deeply compelling. TeMatera says, “Each track written in the key of its associated astral sign. Made with the intention to align and bring into presence the listener, aiding concentration, meditation, and sleep.”
His star sign is Scorpio, which is in C, while mine is Taurus and is in A, but while each song is in a different key, they are all bound together by the same ambient tranquillity and presence which makes this such a compelling and incredibly deep piece of work. It is music you can fall into like a deep pool, looking up and seeing the layers, hearing the sounds of the water as you drift to the bottom with the air slowly escaping from your lungs… There is a need to play this on headphones, or very loudly in a room where there are no distractions whatsoever, as this takes over the senses, moving the brain into new directions. In that respect it totally achieves what TeMatera wanted; there is a deepness and contemplation within, with elements of Leo being almost whalelike. There is never any rushing in any of this, rather every note is taken in deliberate steps, with forethought present in everything that is happening. One may not know where the path is going to lead, but it has been carefully constructed and we are being led in a manner we just do not understand.There is a solidity to this, a physical form which is much stronger than many music I hear in this style, and the result is a constrained and restrained power. There is never a threat or edge, rather that we are being taken on a journey which we need to complete. This is powerful indeed.
10/10 Kev Rowland