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Matt Mays: 'The Past'

Matt Mays had an ambitious plan: write and produce a full-length, feature film and score the music for it. The movie, When the Angels Make Contact, would be a story of heartbreak and the universal search for meaning in an often lonely and dark world. The music would tell the story in song.

Mays eventually had to abandon the movie (at least for now) because of money constraints. But he was able to write and record the soundtrack. Sharing the film's title, it's 18 beautifully dark, experimental rock pieces with a cinematic breadth as vivid as the story Mays originally imagined.

"Doing this movie was a way for me to try and gain some perspective on the nature of life and death," says Mays. "It was a way for me to face all these really heavy issues on my own terms."

When the Angels Make Contact opens with a brief audio collage, mixing found sounds, distant voices and ambient tones in a swirling montage that builds chaotically, before bursting into the first song, "The Past." "Realize the past is gone and keep on keeping on," sings Mays as he begins the story of J.J. Carver, a man haunted by heartache as he searches for his missing girlfriend.

Matt Mays' earlier work as a solo artist, and in the band El Torpedo, was largely roots rock and folk in the spirit of Neil Young or Tom Petty. When the Angels Make Contact is moodier and more experimental, mixing elements of country, surfer rock, trip-hop, and audio clips from parts of the film that were shot.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.
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