Matt Friedberger Winter Women/Holy Ghost Language School

If you’ve been keeping tabs on him, you’ll know that Matt Friedberger is one helluva prolific songwriter. In the last three years, he’s released four albums and a full-length EP with the Fiery Furnaces, without showing signs of slowing down. Taking over the creative reins for the band’s last few records, it’s apparent that copious ideas are flowing out of this man’s brain like a fountain. So it comes as no surprise that Matt has found time to record two separate full-length albums. Recorded over the last three years (with some help from John McEntire) and packaged together, these recordings couldn’t be any more different. Holy Ghost Language School is regarded as a "sonic novel” about a Chicagoan relocating to Japan to start a school for English by negotiating in tongues through the Holy Ghost — this makes even Rehearsing My Choir seem like a coherent concept. The most experimental recording with his name on it, it’s no doubt a challenge, but if you’ve come to enjoy this side of Friedberger then the loose narrative, backwards instrumentation and bizarre arrangements will play to your ear swimmingly. Winter Women, on the other hand, resembles the Furnaces’ offbeat but contagious melodies and will be the obvious favourite for most considering its familiar patterns. Though it stretches a little too long with a running time of an hour, the arrangements are brilliantly realised, largely because of his ingenious grasp of the guitar — both forwards and backwards. Without Eleanor on board, Matt is free to roam musically even more, especially with his voice, an asset that is deserves more appreciation. A wonderful contrast, these two recordings show this gifted and eccentric songwriter showing his range by producing some of his most accessible and experimental work yet. (Aobaonkyo/Paramanu)