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Music Review: Tex La Homa –Little Flashes Of Sunlight On A Cold Dark Sea

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The beautifully photographed album art gives a clue as to the atmosphere of Tex La Homa’s latest release Little Flashes Of Sunlight On A Cold Dark Sea. The title, however, says it all.

Tex La Homa is the side project of UK singer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Shaw. The name is taken from Canadian author Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X.

The first Tex La Homa album, Dazzle Me With Transience, arrived in 2002. It was a lo-fi, low frequency atmosphere that Matt created around haunting melodies, and understated electronic sounds. It was meshed together to produce a satisfying collection of largely chill out ballads.

The next album If Just Today Were To Be My Entire Life followed in 2003. It continued in the same dream pop territory to good effect. Now we have Little Flashes Of Sunlight On A Cold Dark Sea (Acuarela, 2008). For this album Matt abandons his electronic experimentation and instead has totally stripped everything down to produce an intensely personal set of lo-fi songs.

Matt plays every instrument heard on every piece of his music. This album is no exception with the majority of songs featuring Matt on acoustic guitar or piano. It is, in places, shockingly sparse, deep, bleak, and even dark. However, just like the album's title promises, the odd flash of sunlight does indeed break through.  

The intimacy of the album is exposed from the opening track “The Unanswered Question”. Matt, who records alone in his room in Poole, Dorset, adopts a more simplistic approach than that displayed on his previous albums. The result is a mixture of melodic and melancholic material reduced down to the mere essence of the song itself.

Written around personal experiences, memories, reflections, and concerns the songs have everything stripped away to reveal only its core. It seems that Matt is inspired by the gray bleakness of the sea by which he has been surrounded for most of his life. It’s distant horizon, it’s gray and shifting mood, and its hidden power.

“The Unanswered Question” has Matt delving into the deepest corners of your psyche from the off. It is a song that in another life could have been expanded, given more depth and colour. However, he reveals the intimacy of the song with a striking simplicity.

“Dream Sliding” continues this cloying vibe in a song set within a totally bleak atmosphere that is only lifted by some warming and welcome piano. The up tempo “The Greatest Key” lifts the spirits off the floor and hangs around a while after it finishes. “The Ginnel” takes us back to the gray again in a journey into Matt’s memory.

The CD should come accompanied with a health warning against playing it in a sad mood or in troubled times. There is no doubt that it will take you to some dark recesses of your mind. Because of the barren production there is little else to focus on and every sad reflective remorseful regret is thereby rather cleverly magnified ten fold.

The pleasant “Falling” lifts the spirits slightly creating a feeling that “Buziaczki” successfully builds on. The dreamy “An Uncertain Place” runs like a letter written to a departing friend, and that level of almost intrusive personal reflection permeates from “Dawns Of Hope, Sunsets Of Sorrows”.

“Sandbach”, named after the place in Cheshire where Matt spent his school days, breezes in with a dreamy melancholy of the memories of growing up. The gentle acoustics of “One Day At A Time” links to its predecessor nicely, bringing it to the now. “Ania” ends the album with a more uplifting song containing some warming lyrics. ‘You shine like the rising sun’ says Matt of the girl separated from him by distance.

There are moments created within these songs that are disturbingly depressing, and others that will shine and warm. Yet all are delivered with an honesty that is the very essence of this album.

You can listen to samples of Tex La Homa's music by visiting his MySpace page.

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