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CD: Matt Berry – Music for Insomniacs | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Matt Berry – Music for Insomniacs

CD: Matt Berry – Music for Insomniacs

Toast of London’s alter ego finds a cure for his own sleeplessness

Matt Berry's 'Music for Insomniacs': music as therapy

Declaring that your new album can help conquer insomnia seems, initially, self-defeating. If it induces such a calmness that potential listeners drift off to sleep, then there’s the potential it may never be heard in full. Yet this is what lies behind Matt Berry’s fifth album. It was written and recorded at his home studio in the small hours while he was suffering from insomnia. He wanted to create a music which would still his mind so set to devising his own therapeutic soundtrack. Music for Insomniacs is the result.

Music for Insomniacs is neither the expected single drone or blandly undulating soundscape of an off-the-shelf relaxation CD. Instead, it’s two separate 22 and 23-minute pieces with distinct segments and tonal shifts. It’s hardly surprising Berry would come up with an album which confounds expectations. Familiar from TV in the IT Crowd, Reeves and Mortimer’s House of Fools and, as the eponymous lead, in the fantasticToast of London, the most successful of his characters have been surreal, larger-than-life one-offs.

His music has been much the same. Where previously he has drawn from folk, soul and the more uncategorisable, the all-analogue, all-synth Music for Insomniacs – with its unsettling self-painted sleeve image – could have been issued by Virgin Records in 1974. It nods explicitly to the pastoral side of Cluster, Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Popul Vuh and early-Seventies Tangerine Dream. Although Music for Insomniacs does not move music on and obviously isn't meant to, its flowing, aqueous textures, repeated refrains and gently insistent atmosphere make it an absorbing listen. Happily for potential buyers, it does not induce sleep.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

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