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The Mystery Of Grey Matters: a Polyalbum

I normally do not write album reviews on Everyday Listening, but this is a special case. It is not an album, it is a Polyalbum. A what? Well, to be honest, until I heard about this project I had no idea what that word meant. It is an album consisting of three discs. The first and the second can be played apart from each other, but the work comes together when they are played simultaneously. The third disk is for lazy people or people with only one CD player and contains a pre-mixed version of disks one and two. 

The Mystery Of Grey Matters is a project by Charlie McCarron. It tells the story of Gregory (Grey) Matters, who is suffering from strange hallucinations. He starts living in two separate worlds, almost without being able to tell which one is real and which one is dreamt. People start to think he is going crazy. The polyalbum allows us to listen to these two worlds separately, or combined.

Charlie McCarron was so kind to send me a copy of The Mystery Of Grey Matters. The three disks I received, labeled ‘L’, ‘R’ and ‘L+R’ fit snugly in one jewel case. Charlie melts together different styles and different musical ideas. Listening to the first two disks separately we hear parts of songs and well composed sounds, while at some moments it is more like a radio play in which we take a sonic peek into the main character’s life. 

I prefer the more atmospheric, abstract parts of the music combined with the shreds of text to the somewhat naïve song-like structures which could benefit from a bit more musical confidence. That said, the real magic happens when the two albums are combined, as this creates a weird, twisted atmosphere, and for a moment we experience the schizophrenia of Grey Matters, it is like we are in his head for a moment, and then looking at him and his life from a distance again. Some pieces fit together well, some are a bit weird, and it is hard to tell one side from the other. It requires some craftsmanship to make this work. 

In this movie Charlie McCarron explains the idea of the polyalbum visually:

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Reader Comments (2)

A bit like the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, except Zaireeka had four discs to play at once. If you haven't heard it, I recommend checking it out—it totally blew my mind in high school.

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Thanks for the update, Nick! Charlie did mention the Flaming Lips album as the only project he knew similar to his own. I haven't heard it yet.

May 25, 2010 | Registered Commenteradmin

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