Words of the Knife is the latest release from Mark Matos, the former front-man of the Tucson-based group, Campo Bravo. Musically, Words of the Knife demonstrates that Matos has the spirit of a wandering soul, a trait likely passed down to him from his father who moved to the Bay Area after having been drafted into the Portuguese Army in the late 1960s. During his time serving in Africa, his father became a committed pacifist and left Angola, where he had been stationed, to move to San Francisco to start a new life. Once in the Bay Area, his father and grandfather founded one of the Bay Area’s first Portuguese marching bands and hosted a radio show on a Portuguese radio station in San Jose. It was a bold move, and one later repeated in spirit by Mark. Inspired by the minds of the beat generation such as Jack Kerouac, after graduating from high school, Matos spent the next decade traveling across the United States performing odd jobs and playing music in Alaska, Boston, Tuscon, etc. Upon returning to the Bay Area, Matos began his new project with Os Beaches and subsequently recorded Words of the Knife. It is an exciting collection of psych pop tunes characterized in part by leisurely melodies infused with rootsy Americana. When listening to Words of the Knife, there is a definite sense that Matos’ music is heavily infused with the experiences, philosophies and environments of his decade of travels as well as those passed down to him from his family. The result is an album that is both personal and intriguing.
Mark Matos & Os Beaches open Words of the Knife with one of their most straightforward tunes, the downbeat and country-tinged “Hired Hand,” which features slide guitar, evocative Americana inspired keys, and sparse percussion. A few tracks later, “High Priest of the Mission” stands in the clean-up spot, and with good reason: it is the album’s first power hitter. Indeed, although “High Priest of the Mission” isn’t necessarily the album’s best song, it is satisfyingly inviting and certainly the album’s catchiest track. A wonderfully descriptive character sketch with an upbeat melody, this is a song that will invite you to stick around and take some time to revel in the richness the album has to offer. And sticking around is quite rewarding, especially in the final collection of songs beginning with the sprawling, beautiful album highlight “Warrior & The Thief.” The cut clocks in at over 10 minutes, but never feels lost or excessive. Next “Tres-os-montes” is a complex and sonically-rich instrumental that flows into the crisp and slinking “I Come Broken.” The album is available at Insound.
Head back to eating/sf to read Kasey’s review of art/s in the Marina.