Release Date: May 19, 2014
Record label: Acid Jazz
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Matt Berry may be best known for the theatrical booming voice, arch mannerisms and suave womanising of his various comedic guises, but before Steven Toast and Douglas Reynholm there was Matt Berry the musician. His twin careers often cross paths as on Dr Lucien Sanchez’s lovelorn One Track Lover’ in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and the weekly song sequences in Toast of London, the theme song of which is an instrumental version of ‘Take My Hand’ from 2011’s Witchhazel. The pastoral prog-folk dressing of that album and last year’s Kill the Wolf may seem somewhat distant to his comedy personae, although the wholesale adoption of psychedelic folk imagery (see songtitles like ‘The Badger’s Wake’ and ‘Solstice’) isn’t unlike an actor assuming character.
In common with many literally restless creatives, actor/ musician/renaissance dude Matt Berry had the devil of a time shutting off what Carlos Castaneda (yeah, him) would have termed “the internal dialogue”, and nabbing a restorative kip. Resourcefully, however, Berry didn’t waste his sleepless nights counting ceiling cornices or playing I-Dimly-Spy. Instead, he cured himself by recording some music specifically intended to engender somnolence and serenity.
Matt Berry has regularly cited Mike Oldfield as a huge influence on his work. However, the IT Crowd/Garth Marenghi man has never paid homage to the ’70s synth-prog pioneer as explicitly as he does here. A winding 45-minute ambient piece, initially written to cure his own insomnia, its lunar-evoking analogue synths and isolated keyboard melodies lean heavily on Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’ or any of the great ’70s long-form electronic works.
You will probably recognise Matt Berry from the telly. The now star of Channel 4’s absurdly brilliant sitcom Toast of London has starred in many a turn for quality telly shows in recent years: as the pompous Douglas Reynholm in Channel 4’s The IT Crowd, the 70s pornstar-fashioned Dr Lucien Sanchez in the brilliant Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and as the might silver-horseshoe-moustachioed and giant pipe on wheels smoking Dixon Bainbridge from the BBC’s The Mighty Boosh. When he’s not championing the virtues of egg in soup served with a pork pie, or doing booming voice-overs for adverts, Matt Berry is also a musician – but not a very funny one.
Best known for his roles in The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh, comedian Matt Berry also has a stop-start musical career going back 20 years. His fifth album marks a radical departure from his most recent folk/prog crossover fare. Created in the dead of night while unable to sleep, Music for Insomniacs is 46 minutes of tinkling, shape-shifting electronica, intercut with snippets of mumbled speech and simple keyboard riffs.