Daudi Matsiko – An Introduction to Failure
Naim Records – 26 May 2017
Billed as a double EP rather than an album, An Introduction to Failure brings together Daudi Matsiko’s first two self-released recordings for a wider distribution via his deal with Naim Records.
The UK born and raised Ugandan singer-songwriter Matsiko specialises in sparse, minimalist guitar work, fleshed out here and there with touches of sax and synth that nod to such formative influences as Mogwai, Radiohead and Coltrane, his songs, confessional tales of personal experience.
If you’re looking for some mellow melancholia, sung in a warm, soft voice and accompanied by classy acoustic fingerpicking, then opening track Home seems a good place to start, featuring Ben Daniel on upright bass – and Dan Leavers on alto sax.
That same pastoral vibe is there on the whisperingly-sung You Can Do Better Than Me, But I Hope You Don’t, a wry spin on the usual romantic lyric as he sings about being “a rotten tooth in, a mouth full of crooked teeth”, surprised that she still wants him. Both stem from his 2014 debut, A Brief Introduction to Failure, as do the thematically similar but more musically full-bodied This Day with its electric bass and piano and the lo-fi acoustic Houston In The Blind.
The other four cuts are from 2015’s The Lingering Effects of Disconnection, led off by the musically simple yet complex soulfully sung Sandwiches (“Now we are a sandwich and hate is the filling”) featuring a scratchily played minimal guitar riff, percussive clicks and, towards the end, piano chords. Spilt Milk is dreamier in a Brian Wilson sort of way, though the lyrics (“This baggage never goes, lets hold hold too tight stay miserable… Got my shovel, I’ve got my hole”) are anything but, things being no cheerier on the Buckley-esque drone-introed OK, Let’s Be Honest as he delivers lines like “Couldn’t satisfy the destruction I craved when all you gave was love” in a barely-there vocal.
Take Me Old is the last cut, a simple fingerpicked circling guitar pattern and persistent synth note underpinning a love song about growing old together that refreshingly addresses the reality rather than the rosy romanticism, as he croons in dulcet tones, “know my heart is full and in it your love I will keep, but if I am too late to make it to the toilet seat I’d do the same for you if it meant more time we could keep.” It’s an inviting introduction, so let’s hope there’s more of the same soon.