The Grey Knowledge was Beef Terminal's breakthrough album, following seven years' worth of more obscure (often self-released and cassette-only) efforts. It's not that Toronto's M.D. Matheson changed his musical mindset significantly for this album; nor did his songwriting or production take a particularly notable leap forward prior to its recording. Instead, it's simply that by 2002, the world at large was growing more receptive to this brand of meditative instrumental post-rock: Beef Terminal's Noise Factory labelmates Broken Social Scene had already released their conceptually very similar debut album Feel Good Lost and were about to launch into the indie stratosphere with the follow-up You Forgot It in People.
Though Matheson was seemingly one of the few people on the Toronto indie scene not connected to the BSS collective, The Grey Knowledge gathered considerably more attention thanks to the accident of a shared record label. It deserved the higher profile no matter where it came from, however: every bit as good an album as the better-known Feel Good Lost, The Grey Knowledge is 13 tracks' worth of gently psychedelic instrumental post-rock, constructed primarily out of guitar loops and effects boxes.
Matheson's gift is that he can build actual songs out of what would, in lesser hands, be mere atmospheric doodles; songs like "Daisyscience" and "Her Eyes Turn Black" are well-constructed, melodically sound tunes given inventive, ear-grabbing arrangements. Aside from the next to last track, a mournful cover of Eurythmics' "This City Never Sleeps" that's a surprisingly perfect fit for the album's overall mood of reflective melancholy, the songs are entirely instrumental, with occasional found-sound tapes and samples providing an intermittent echo of musical connection to the likes of the Orb or Pink Floyd. There's a hermetic quality to Beef Terminal's records that begs comparison to the similarly single-minded U.K. post-punk Durutti Column, in the sense that The Grey Knowledge is the work of one unique and singularly appealing artist.
|Her Eyes Turn Black / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:16|
|An Early Start / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:04|
|Alchemy / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:49|
|Whirlybird / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:45|
|Marson Lane / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||3:29|
|Losing / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||3:20|
|Daisyscience / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||5:29|
|Enter and Leave with Nothing / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||7:15|
|Time Apart / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:24|
|Red Sky Take Warning / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||7:25|
|Steadfast / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:29|
|This City Never Sleeps / LCpl. A. Lennox||Beef Terminal||6:24|
|The Grey Knowledge / M.D. Matheson||Beef Terminal||4:39|