Third Eye Foundation
Sounds From The Edge
Initially marked down as a fellow traveller to the likes of Squarepusher or the Aphex Twin when first surfacing a decade ago Matt Elliott's Third Eye Foundation was always an altogether darker, more disconcerting beast creating genuinely unsettling soundscapes with titles like ‘Corpses As Bedmates’, ‘The Sound Of Violence’, ‘A Name For My Pain’, ‘An Even Harder Shade Of Dark’ and ‘I’m Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired’. Easy listening this most certainly wasn’t, however there was much bleak beauty to be found in his work - although ultimately Elliott would find electronic music too limiting and would decamp with his acoustic guitar to France to begin the second phase of his career as a singer songwriter. But we are not here to mourn at the tombstone of TEF but to celebrate it’s short, magnificent life and to see if Elliott still hates as much of his early work as he did when he was creating it...
Matt Elliott: It's difficult, people like Semtex and Ghost (I actually don't mind some of Semtex these days) but Ghost will always be hard for me to listen to because it reminds me of shit times [anyway] it's impossible to have an objective view of your own music, but a lot of people still tell me that Ghost is the best thing I've done.
TotalMusic-Online: Collected Works is an astonishingly fine body of work which anyone would feel rightly proud of but to quote yourself 'You Guys Kill Me and Little Lost Soul are the only ones I'm still willing to hold my hands up to', can you now look back a little more fondly at your work or do you still obsess over what you perceive as mistakes in the recordings?
Matt Elliott: I still obsess but I had to listen to the whole box set in one go to approve the mastering and some of it I enjoyed. It was a long journey, some of it I haven’t heard for years so there was a bit of 'what the fuck was I thinking' or sometimes worse, remembering what I was thinking and thinking 'what a dick'. I always hate things as soon as they come out but I've got my hatred for these old CDs out of the way [and] I've moved on.
TotalMusic-Online: There are many 'fans' of your music who cannot fathom how such beautiful, emotive (if certainly dark and unsettling music) was heard by so few people, why do
you imagine it slipped through the public consciousness first time around?
Matt Elliott: Because it's miserable and can be oppressive, but in a weird way I think you have to give a bit of yourself or meet the music half way and if you're not willing to do that it is [probably too] oppressive.
TotalMusic-Online: You once said you didn't see the point of making music unless it was
new/different, do you still believe this?
Matt Elliott: Yes, It's pointless to make music that sounds like music that already exists, but I also used to think that the guitar was a dead instrument and everything had been done with it and my opinion is different now. I don't have so many theories these days because I've been proven wrong so many times.
TotalMusic-Online: Your work under your own name moved away from electronics and towards more song based compositions, is this what prompted the dropping of the Third Eye Foundation moniker?
Matt Elliott: Yes, I had other shit to do with music. I knew nothing, or very little of melodic structure and wanted to understand that. I also wanted to play an instrument so I chose classical guitar to kind of study. Music is endless there are so many facets to music even the fact that it exists at all is a mystery.
TotalMusic-Online: You weren't a fan of touring when we last spoke but you seem to have been getting out and about a bit more lately, have your feelings about touring changed and if so what has changed them?
Matt Elliott: I used to hate doing TEF [live] because there was no expression, there was very little I could do, I couldn't strum a guitar all I could do was press a few buttons and that is boring to watch although the sound was sometimes fantastic. But playing and singing can feel really great when it all works, there is no feeling like coming off after a good show. [Singing for the first time] was the most stressful thing I've ever done but I'm glad I did it because it is so great to sing your heart out (when all goes well). In fact it was when I saw Mogwai come backstage after a show and they were so elated and I thought 'this doesnt happen to me' and that was because even if the audience loved it I couldnt take full responsibility because they were aplauding my technology. When you sing and play live you take a risk but if it goes well the pay off is great, although saying that whatever the reaction I always get a real downer after the initial burst of euphoria so you can't bloody win.
The beautifully packaged Collected Works is available now
(as indeed is the first TEF album Semtex and several fine remix collections, the best of which is I Poo Poo On Your Ju Ju). Matt Elliott can also be found on work by Flying Saucer Attack, AMP and of course on later, more song based, releases under his own name. More TEF info can be found at www.thirdeyefoundation.com.