Matt Kivel

bend reality ~ like a wave (Pedro Y El Lobo)

Contact Patrick Tilley about Matt Kivel

Matt Kivel shares “little world,” the final single from his new album, bend reality ~ like a wave, out this Friday, October 14th, on Pedro Y El Lobo. The live video recorded in Mexico City’s historic center on a sunny July morning features a supergroup of renowned musicians in the city’s jazz scene: Todd Clouser (guitar/arrangements), Aarón Cruz (upright bass), Jorge Servín (drums), Adrián Escamilla (saxophone), and Alan Fajardo (trumpet).


Kivel’s musical universe is one of beautiful and stark contrasts. It is shaped by complex lyrics with vivid imagery, deftly-composed melodies, and abstract instrumental soundscapes. It can channel the stillness of the natural world while transmitting a deep, inner pain and grotesque sense of dislocation, reflecting the noise and claustrophobia of contemporary life. His songs are often guided by an unconventional falsetto and minimal, yet musically inventive, writing style, that make them instantly recognizable. bend reality 〜 like a wave transfigures the trademark aspects of his career into eleven of his most accessible songs.


After a period of continuous exploration that saw him move rapidly through styles–lush acoustic folk collaborations with Alasdair Roberts, an unruly and expansive double album with strings and sheets of distortion, and a return to insular, at-home recording–bend reality feels, strangely, centered. It is a glistening, guitar-pop album that is luminous, endlessly melodic, warm, and deep. The album sees Kivel working with a full band for the first time since 2016 and features an impressive roster of musicians, including his decades-long friend and touring buddy Wes Miles (of Ra Ra Riot) and his longtime penpal and sometime musical collaborator Bonnie “Prince” Billy.


Matt has always been very conscious of his discography as a continually unfolding process – how it flows and evolves from one album to the other, often reflecting the changes in his own life. In a sequence of pure, inventive, and emotional releases, this one is the most grounded. It comes as the ultimate proof of how seriously Kivel takes the act of creating music on its most fundamental level: just for music’s sake. With the album’s title Kivel could be describing music itself, with its magical quality of transforming the air temporarily into notes and rhythms and then disappearing again.