WOODEN CAVE ALBUM BIO:
In the cloud of a dream, sleeping brain churning in memory and melatonin, he wandered into a wooden cave. Deep within, bathed in soft blue light, the face of Netta hovered in the shadows.
Queens-based songwriter Matt Longo had always been drawn to the stories of forgotten eccentrics, but never haunted by their subjects. And yet, upon reading of 1920’s occultist Netta Fornario, and her misunderstood end on a tiny island off of Scotland, he found himself dreaming of her on a consistent basis, often waking with a fleeting image of the woman. Netta had inexplicably left her friends and family in search of magic…and lost everything. After many years of fronting bands, and then releasing several records under his own name, Matt felt an immediate empathy for her, and recognized her story as that of an artist.
He’d recently been searching for a path forward, for a way to encapsulate a growing disillusionment with city living, crumbling relationships, and self-imposed artistic pressures. His fixation on Netta, and her real or imagined visitations, provided him with a muse for his writing, and an outlet for an exploration on outcasts, death, and the hope that might remain in its wake.
Inspired by the immersive, idiosyncratic creative process of songwriters in the Elephant 6 collective, Matt wrote songs in all-night flurries of activity in his Astoria apartment. Pulling influence from the insular world of Astral Weeks, the melodic adventurousness of Harry Nilsson, and the eclecticism of Shuggie Otis, Matt aimed to create a set of songs existing on a sonic and lyrical island of their own. He emerged with eleven tracks, songs sprawling from ornate, warm ballads, to psychedelically-tinged folk, to propulsive grooves, brimming with melody and heart.
To record the album, Matt formed a loose collective of musicians, the bulk of whom cut their teeth for years in jazz and progressive music. Recording at studios throughout the city, often with different groups entirely, depending on the required feel of a track, Matt imbued his set of wide-eyed story-songs with a rich palate of instrumentation: a lush quartet, a gleaming brass section, ethereal organs, and ghostly pedal steel, all backed by a kinetic sway and thump.
A two-year labor of love, and the debut album under his Thin Lear moniker, Wooden Cave was finally finished in mid 2019: the culmination of hauntings, of determined lyrical exploration, of intense, intimate recording sessions that allowed each song its chance to bloom.
The songs reveal different paths for their outcast narrators, the love, hope, despair, or danger awaiting them at the end of their journeys. “Netta,” the album opener, puts the listener in the titular character’s world, walking us through her last days over shivering orchestration and a cathartic conclusion. The frenetic “Maniacs,” with its relentlessly chugging pace, charts a desperate internet dweller’s alienation and pull towards cult-like thinking. In “A Simple Phrase,” backed by sweet, enveloping strings, the singer laments an ongoing, literal internal choir of insecurity, and how these voices can carry within generations of a family, before resolving to quiet them.
Wooden Cave, written for outsiders like Netta, radiates with a sonic glow that harkens back to 70’s-era studio obsessives, familiar and surprising in equal measure, like a face from a dream.
Album mastered by Joe Lambert (Hiss Golden Messenger, Sharon Van Etten, The National).
- Wooden Cave
- A Simple Phrase
- The Guesthouse
- Death in a Field
- I Thought I Was Alone
- Different Tune
- Behold You Now
- ’93 Heap
- Your Family