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Jacob Hague Mateo - “Quiet Majesty”

Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier & Staff

I was so pleasantly surprised after the first 30 seconds of playback as I listened to “Quite Majesty.” A collaboration between composer/multi-instrumentalist Jacob Hague Mateo and poet Ben Bushill that mixes beautifully powerful instrumental music with poignant and equally captivating poetry performed with an actor’s timing and sensibility. The end result is a very peaceful yet sweepingly cinematic experience.

The sound of footsteps and birds far off in the distance set the tone as Bushill’s gentle voice begins his narration. His tone is kind and inviting; yet somehow, it is also commanding in a very compassionate way. He doesn’t beat you over the head with his performance but rather effortlessly draws you in as he smoothly navigates through each stanza with a refined eloquence and expert timing. Credit is also due to the way Bushill’s voice is mixed as each phrase sounds like he’s speaking right in your ear as if you’re being tucked into bed.

At first, I thought that it was just going to be a spoken word piece which is super cool in it’s own right but the addition of Mateo’s contributions bring things to another level to create something truly unique and refreshing to hear as a listener.

Nearly thirty seconds pass until the mournful swells of expertly played cello begin to accompany Bushill’s narration as he reflects on how we as a people have forgotten to listen not only to ourselves, but to the natural world around us.

The overall message being personified by an encounter with a fox in the woods. This to me was brilliantly conveyed in the following lines…

“He carried nothing with him

but his hunger and the freezing moment

no dreams of becoming or betrayal

no empty wishes for a brighter day.

The soundless grief of existence

gave him depth and he offered his nobility to everything around him

gifting the trees and the vast night sky

with presence and warm, soft feet in the crisp snow.”

The music and poetry truly fellowship together throughout the piece as there are defined emotional peaks and valleys that occur. The warmth of a piano melody adds a pinch of drama as the plot thickens while the gorgeous blend of strings and keys surge with emotion and volume as the piece reaches its climax. Mateo plays with a sophistication as well as a depth of feeling that any serious musician (myself included) should aspire to. There is such a palpable communication and genuine sense of trust exchanged between the duo that makes for such an exciting listen.

Though it’s difficult to choose a favorite section of this piece, some stand out lines that hit me profoundly were the following…

“We will never be without grief.”

“Forgiveness is born of surrender.”

“Dignity will never be earned but arises from acceptance.”

All in all, “Quite Majesty” is a deeply moving and truly beautiful piece of art. From my perspective, it is a gentle request to reconnect with the harmony that surrounds us all and all too often take for granted. Stream on Spotify

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For more information on Jacob Hauge Mateo, check out his interview on Musique!


#JacobHagueMateo #QuietMajesty #BenBushill

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