Based in Orange County, California, Peter Matuchniak’s music has been described as being influenced by the variety of sounds he was exposed to at home, jazz, rock, classical and the current radio friendly “hits”, although, one could argue, this hardly goes without saying. In the 1980’s he formed part of the so called “neo-progressive“ movement, in bands such as Janysium and Mach One.
“Uncover Me”, his latest release, is bookended by two parts of “Landscape Burning”, “Falling Ash” and “Rising Sun”. “Falling Ash” explodes into a fanfare of extravagance and occasion with searing guitar lines drifting above luxurious, soulful female vocal lines somewhat reminiscent of those found on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. The chord progressions are elegant and the arrangements lavish with a myriad of instrumentation. “Running Blind” has a straight forward power ballad feel which is interspersed with leftfield passages, keeping it exciting and innovative.
The title track “Uncover Me” is a gentle folk inspired piece centred on a poignant yet child like flute. The slightly off kilter lines throughout “Running Back to You” keep it dramatic and inscrutable. “London Vibe” has a strong modern jazz/rock guitar feel to it, whilst “Lionheart Betrayed” has a peculiar medieval character which contrasts starkly with the previous piece, but somehow still appears to remain cohesive.
Some of the tunes that permeate the album have a child like quality, such as “Sandcastles”, which lend an innocence and naivety to the flow of the album, which is both appealing in a melancholic manner, and remarkable in the way they dove tail into the narrative of the album. The final part of “Landscape Burning”, “Rising Sun” further defines “Uncover Me” as progressive in nature, through intricate passages of keyboard and guitar which weave in and out of dreamlike vocal.
Again, the lyrics may appear to the listener to be rather naive, but these only go some way to enhance the overall experience. There are several spoken word passages, which are heard as announcements, giving the tunes an enigmatic flavour. “Hippy in the Rain” closes the album as a straight ahead acoustic guitar based song which has ample humour and irony to offset any concerns that an accumulation of technical musicianship can lend the album an air of pompousness.
Throughout “Uncover Me” Matuchniak’s guitar is confident in a variety of styles. The voices of Ted Zahn and Natalie Azerad and powerful yet never obstructive, and the bass of Rick Meadows is strident and self-assured. Jimmy Keegan, drummer for Spock’s Beard, holds these elements together with percussion that is solid yet volatile when necessary. David Gilman and Conor Jonson on flute and saxophone provide the perfect distraction in an album that is both unified, yet not in any way formulaic. And for that reason, among many, “Uncover Me” deserves repeated listening and careful consideration.